THE MARZIPAN PIG

Long ago, Hoban wrote several quintessentially sensible picture books about Frances, a badger. Of late, he writes novels, which may be as experimental and critically acclaimed as Riddley Walker, and slapstick, satirical picture books. Here, he returns to the gently philosophical mode of A Mouse and His Child, in a whimsical fantasy whose primary appeal is the comic surprise of incongruity, enriched by other levels of meaning. The marzipan pig, still sweet within but dusty, crusty, and forgotten, mourns beneath a sofa till a mouse consumes it and is in turn consumed by love—for a clock, which can respond only with the time. The mouse, giving up on the clock (which then expires in despair), is eaten by an owl, causing it to fall in love with a taxi meter—and when this love is requited, after a fashion, a bee picks up a bit of the magic, which is then transferred to a flower and thence to another mouse that eats another marzipan pig—and survives. Each new turn is the occasion for some entertaining repartee as well as implicit ruminations on love between two beings that may not share a language or seem to communicate. This is all more accessible and fun than it may sound in summary. Hoban's deft, poetic style is perfect for sharing aloud; Blake's many humorous illustrations (black-and-white and thus more subdued than usual) enliven the attractive format. A good choice for young readers who enjoy fantasy.

Pub Date: May 20, 1987

ISBN: 978-1-59017-999-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1987

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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