THE HERO OF BREMEN

An agreeable German tale of avarice vanquished and true heroism, based—according to Hodges's excellent note—on a 19th- century text. Hans the shoemaker is known for his careful work and the stories he tells children about the heroic Roland, revered for making Bremen a free city. Now it's also a crowded one, and its people are negotiating for space outside the walls. A tax has been collected to pay for it, but old Countess Emma's wily nephew (and heir) makes a generous-sounding offer: they may have, free, ``all the land that a man can walk around in a day.'' The burghers agree, and (in accordance with the bargain) the nephew chooses Hans as the walker—a cruel trick, since he can progress only on ``knuckles and knees.'' Still, he does his best over rough pasture and bog, accompanied only by his beloved children and, in the end, by Roland himself, who appears to help him on his way. The late Mikolaycak's carefully structured illustrations—though still animated by close-ups and unusual perspectives—are less starkly dramatic than much of his work; tenderness prevails here, and it well befits a poignant, gracefully retold tale that's a natural for storytelling. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-8234-0934-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1993

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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