THE KING HAS GOAT EARS

Jovanovic’s debut adapts a Serbian variant of a King Midas story, placing the emphasis on acceptance. Because of his self-consciousness about his unusual goat-ears, shut-in King Boyan engages a new barber for each haircut, imprisoning the previous ones. Apprentice Igor volunteers to barber the King and—apparently unlike his predecessors—seems unperturbed by those ears. Allowed to come and go between village and palace, Igor shouts his secret into a hole in the meadow, where a bit of botanical magic (reeds embodying the revelatory words grow from the hole) results in flutes that only play the titular sentence. Shepherds sell the flutes at the May Fair, which Igor has convinced the king to attend. All ends well, and Jovanovic’s clear telling elucidates the detailed plot. Kids might question the logic, though: If one barber could be detained at the palace, why would the king need to employ a succession of them? Igor knows all about the reeds and flutes, though neither text nor pictures reveal how. Béha’s mixed-media collages brightly blend photographic elements, Chagall-esque, white-faced figures and waxy layers of color. Sadly, there is no source note. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-896580-22-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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