THE MAGIC KERCHIEF

This tale tells of how a crabby old woman was transformed into, if not the epitome of sweetness, at least a pleasingly tart character, while a delight in language is evident everywhere throughout the book. Griselda is the crab's name. She lives alone and is known far and wide as having a tongue that smote its victims like a bullwhip. Of the Lord Mayor: “A donkey on two legs is still a donkey.” Of her neighbors: “At least my words are not all vine and no fruit.” Still, her loneliness hurts, but there was nothing for it until Griselda curbed her grumping. “Her tongue had nettled too many for too long. Even the village priest left her out of his prayers.” One night, an old woman wearing a lovely kerchief knocks on her door and asks for shelter. Griselda grudgingly complies and is given the scarf the next morning in return. She is told the scarf is magic, but will hear none of it. Yet, as she makes her rounds in town, ready to berate all and sundry, nothing but kind words pass her lips: “Your kind compliment is nearly as delicious as your bread,” or “My aches and pains vanish when I meet an old friend.” People are astounded by the change (as is Griselda, who can’t believe what she is saying, and is none too happy about it), but they are ready to accept her into their lives. And when they come to pay visits the next day, Griselda greets them with warmth and politeness, even though she has lost the scarf. She still finds time for a little sass—of the mayor helping her gather eggs: “Two heads are better than one. Even if one is a cabbagehead.” The antique turns of phrase sound like music when read aloud, and who can say the message is not a good one to repeat: It’s as easy to be wickedly funny as wickedly mean. Litzinger’s artwork, with its pastel shades, lovely patterning, and homespun characters, is an added bonus (The Old Woman and Her Pig, 1993). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1473-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2000

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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