This Arctic spin on a familiar folkloric theme, while uneven, offers a glimpse of a landscape too little seen in children’s...

THE OWL AND THE LEMMING

Pride goeth before the fall. Or, in this case, the leap.

An Inuit folk tale is given a tiny update in this picture-book adaptation. Spring has arrived, and a young lemming’s thoughts turn to the tasty moss outside her burrow. Alas, no sooner has she started munching than an equally hungry snowy owl blocks her home’s entrance. The lemming must outwit the bird, but early efforts get nowhere. For example, asking the owl to simply spread its legs and redirect its gaze falls flat. (“No way! I am not stupid!” says the owl.) Next the lemming tries entreating the owl to wait for plumper prey. No go. Finally, she hits on the best solution, challenging the owl to a leaping contest. There’s a fine tradition of stories involving prey outwitting their predators. In this case, the lemming is remarkable for failing so miserably to trick her hunter before finally hitting on the best solution, and the owl is equally remarkable for its patience. While the dialogue is smart and snappy (this version of the story began life as a film), the interstitial narrative is less lively. Mixed-media art portrays both the lemming and the owl (to a lesser degree) as cartoonish figures. Fortunately background photographs of the Arctic tundra vistas more than make up for what these figures lack.

This Arctic spin on a familiar folkloric theme, while uneven, offers a glimpse of a landscape too little seen in children’s books. (Picture book/folklore. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-7722-7120-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life.

¡VAMOS! LET'S GO TO THE MARKET

From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, journey through a Mexican mercado delivering diverse goods to a variety of booths.

With the aid of red words splattered throughout the spreads as labels, Raúl the Third gives an introduction to Spanish vocabulary as Little Lobo, an anthropomorphic wolf, leaves his house, fills his cart with objects from his warehouse, and delivers them to the market’s vendors. The journey also serves as a crash course in Mexican culture, as the images are packed with intertextual details such as food, traditional games, and characters, including Cantinflas, Frida Khalo, and Juan Gabriel. Readers acquainted with Raúl the Third’s characters from his Lowriders series with author Cathy Camper will appreciate cameos from familiar characters. As he makes his rounds, Little Lobo also collects different artifacts that people offer in exchange for his deliveries of shoe polish, clothespins, wood, tissue paper, paintbrushes, and a pair of golden laces. Although Raúl the Third departs from the ball-pen illustrations that he is known for, his depiction of creatures and critters peppering the borderland where his stories are set remains in his trademark style. The softer hues in the illustrations (chosen by colorist Bay) keep the busy compositions friendly, and the halftone patterns filling the illustrations create foregrounds and backgrounds reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s pointillism.

A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-55726-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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