Aunt Minnie is back, and if this time her story seems a bit rudderless, she is no less the epitome of good sense and protectiveness. Her nine charges, children of her late brother and his late wife, are getting bigger and the house is getting smaller, but as Minnie observes, “Well, we don’t have much room—but we have each other.” Readers learn how Minnie uses a great clanging bell to get her nieces’ and nephews’ attention. And that in the spring they use one of Minnie’s dresses on a scarecrow to frighten the crows; in summer, they bottle their vegetable harvest for the coming winter—Minnie abides as a systematic force. In the autumn, they make apple butter and apple cider and stow the storable vegetables in the root cellar. Boy do those veggies taste good in the dead of winter, and boy are they glad they have that root cellar—snakes, toads, and all—when the next spring a tornado drops in for a visit. Plum spins their house right on its axis, which serves as an occasion for them to build that necessary addition (“We can’t have the front door looking straight out yonder at the johnny house”). Perhaps a few too many topics get covered, and maybe the tornado scene is a bit too frantic, even for a tornado. But Lewin’s (A House Full of Christmas, 2001, etc.) watercolors are studies in warm domesticity, and Aunt Minnie continues as an Old Soul, teaching by example and ready with the comforting touch. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 22, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-11136-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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A marketing trip from Miranda (Glad Monster, Sad Monster, p. 1309) that jiggity jigs off in time-honored nursery-rhyme fashion, but almost immediately derails into well-charted chaos. The foodstuffs—the fat pig, the red hen, the plump goose, the pea pods, peppers, garlic, and spice—are wholly reasonable in light of the author's mention of shopping at traditional Spanish mercados, which stock live animals and vegetables. Stevens transfers the action to a standard American supermarket and a standard American kitchen, bringing hilarity to scenes that combine acrylics, oil pastels, and colored pencil with photo and fabric collage elements. The result is increasing frazzlement for the shopper, an older woman wearing spectacles, hat, and purple pumps (one of which is consumed by her groceries). It's back to market one last time for ingredients for the hot vegetable soup she prepares for the whole bunch. True, her kitchen's trashed and she probably won't find a welcome mat at her supermarket hereafter, but all's well that ends well—at least while the soup's on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200035-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.


Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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