A whimsical artistic meditation that perhaps needed more time on the drawing board.

THE SLEEPING GYPSY

Inspired by Rousseau’s painting of the same name, Gerstein imagines a dream that provoked the artist to create it.

It’s unfortunate that a different book title highlighting the dream conceit, rather than reiterating the painting title’s problematic use of “gypsy,” wasn’t used. A prologue includes a black-and-white drawing of a child looking at the painting and explicitly says, “this book suggests some of the answers” to possible questions prompted by the mysterious scene. Although she appears neither childlike nor small, the text refers to the sleeping person as “a girl” and identifies her as a figure in Rousseau’s dream. Instead of answering questions that would put her story at the center (Why is she walking through the desert? What is her name? Where is she going?), the text and art introduce animals (including the lion that looms over the figure in the painting) that enter Rousseau’s dream and speculate about her. Then Rousseau enters his own dream, announcing that both girl and animals are there "so that I may paint a picture," which reinforces her marginalization. When Rousseau himself awakens, he, of course, paints his dream—minus all the animals but the lion, as they become so contentious he omits them. Gerstein ably captures the dreaminess of both his subject and the story, but although the participation of the animals is a child-friendly device, it serves to distract readers from the unanswered questions about the title character.

A whimsical artistic meditation that perhaps needed more time on the drawing board. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2142-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more