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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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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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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