BALARAMA

A ROYAL ELEPHANT

On a tour of southern India, the authors are so entranced by Drona, the lead Royal Elephant of the maharaja of Mysore, and the stories his mahout (trainer) tells that the celebrated children’s-book duo decides to return to southern India for the Dasara festival in order to see Drona lead an annual ceremonial procession. As in the pair’s earlier Gorilla Walk (1999), illustration styles are mixed here, from Ted Lewin’s rich, layered watercolors to Betsy Lewin’s funny, sketchy vignettes. The artists’ return is bittersweet: Drona has met with an untimely end but will be replaced by Balarama, another magnificent elephant that will bear the weight of the ceremonial howdah for the first time. An extended snapshot of the animal, its care and importance to the people of India, the book provides a pleasing mixture of the authors’ observations, descriptions of local traditions and a stately depiction of the great beast, all holding together nicely in a flowing narrative. (map, endnotes, glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-60060-265-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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