STREGA NONA TAKES A VACATION

There’s an inexhaustible sweetness to dePaola’s Strega Nona stories, and this is no exception (Night of Las Posedas, 1999, etc.). With their gentle, light-filled colors and strong, simple shapes, the figures of “Grandma Witch,” her cohorts Bambolona and Big Anthony, and the villagers of their Calabrian town fill the pages. This time, Strega Nona is so distracted by a dream of her own grandmother that she almost gives the wrong lotions and potions to the people who come to her with their aches and pains. She remembers her grandma Concetta’s little house by the seashore, and the dream-pictures show the two of them swimming, gathering shells, flowers, and mussels, and gazing out over the water. Strega Nona goes off on vacation to do all of those things again, leaving Big Anthony and Bambolona with careful admonitions. But when she sends gifts back to both, Bambolona wants Big Anthony’s candy, and switches the labels so he gets the bubble bath. Those who remember Big Anthony’s encounter with the pasta pot will figure out the result, as he floats through town with only his feet, hands, head, and rubber ducky visible in the cloud of bubbles. A little dove warns Strega Nona and she heads back to the rescue, noting that next time she goes on vacation she might as well take the two with her. Don’t miss “La gloria di Strega Nona” on the back cover, where Strega Nona does a Botticelli Venus with Big Anthony and Bambolona tossing flowers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23562-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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TO MARKET, TO MARKET

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.

HOME

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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