THE REALLY GROOVY STORY OF THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

Crow clearly wants kids to move and groove with her new version of this beloved tale. What does this reincarnation bring? A syncopated hip-hop swing that has built-in action for listening and reading aloud. "Well, Hare, he really scurried / tho' he wasn't even worried / 'cause he left the silly tortoise in the dust." Unfortunately, the “swing” can be a bit temperamental, and an adult reader will need to go through the text silently to get the rhythm right, without sounding labored. The pacing cleverly mimics the story, with speedy and slow verses, a choice that is both artful and another potential slipup for oral reading. Preparation before reading is recommended. Propelling the story forward, however, is a positive energy that oozes from each spread. Visual homage is paid to Normal Rockwell, Michael Jordan, Fred Astaire and even Elvis. Bringing to mind a match-up between Franklin the Turtle and the Trix Cereal Rabbit, the illustrations give readers a wide view of the race, depict Hare's impending disaster up-close and treat them to a photo finish. The last phrase, “Hare mutters in disgust,” provides the opportunity to discuss losing with grace. An entertaining choice that will introduce children to the fable and show those familiar with it how traditional tales can be expanded. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6911-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A handsome edition of an old favorite.

WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

The familiar cumulative game is played by four children, along with their father and their dog, at the typically British beach pictured on the lovely, expansive first endpaper. 

The children's real activities are shown in b&w drawings; the imaginative doings appear in full color. Although some of the color pages show perfectly possible events, most are clearly fantasy, suggesting just how close the two may be in children's minds. The family ends up in safe retreat in one big cozy bed; the bear is seen--on the second essential, beautiful endpaper--headed into a gloomy sea. Oxenbury's splendid watercolors and drawings perfectly evoke both landscape and the members of the questing family. 

A handsome edition of an old favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1989

ISBN: 978-0-689-50476-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1989

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