MARKET DAY

A STORY TOLD WITH FOLK ART

Once again Ehlert (Top Cat, 1998, etc.) has created a vibrant and fascinating picture book by arranging and photographing pieces of folk art from her collection, this time against backdrops of Guatemalan and Colombian textiles. Carved and painted wooden chickens perch in front of a backdrop of appliquéd chickens, as the family feeds them corn before packing up the produce to take to market. In a whimsically painted clay truck, they go “past the fish and frogs that swim near the bridge / and past the sheep that graze on the ridge.” Among others going to market are mice dolls from Indonesia on an African cycle made of discarded metal containers, wire, bike chain, rubber, and plastic. A wooden jaguar passes by with a tomato and later a carrot in its mouth, and a clay possum pulls a cart holding a single papier-mâché turnip. Part of the pleasure of the book is in scrutinizing the ingenious details of the folk art, and the way they’ve been combined to tell the story. There’s an element of childlike play in this, reminiscent of the way children create and act out stories by combining toys of various origins and disparate sizes, and through the power of imagination create a world that is entirely their own. Ehlert has created a similarly captivating world within these pages. A two-paged catalogue of artifacts, their composition, and their origins completes the picture. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202158-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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I CAN BE ANYTHING!

A young boy wonders aloud to a rabbit friend what he will be when he grows up and imagines some outrageous choices. “Puddle stomper,” “bubble gum popper,” “mixing-bowl licker,” “baby-sis soother” are just some of the 24 inspiringly creative vocations Spinelli’s young dreamer envisions in this pithy rhymed account. Aided by Liao’s cleverly integrated full-bleed mixed-media illustrations, which radiate every hue of the rainbow, and dynamic typesetting with words that swoop and dive, the author’s perspective on this adult-inspired question yields some refreshingly child-oriented answers. Given such an irresistible array of options—“So many jobs! / They’re all such fun”—the boy in the end decides, in an exuberant double gatefold, “I’m going to choose… / EVERY ONE!”—a conclusion befitting a generation expected to have more than six careers each. Without parents or peers around to corral this carefree child’s dreams, the possibilities of being whatever one wants appear both limitless and attainable. An inspired take on a timeless question. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-16226-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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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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