AZIZ THE STORYTELLER

In her debut for children, Hughes crafts a convincing tale to explain the storyteller’s art and its transmission from one generation to the next. Tea-stained pages provide the backdrop for Czernecki’s (Huevos Rancheros, not reviewed, etc.) heavy, black-ink line drawings which depict Aziz as he enters the marketplace with his aging father. There to sell carpets, Aziz collects stories instead. “If you do not help me,” says his father, “who will provide for me when I am old?” Despite his best intentions, Aziz fails to make any sales. Then, one day, the storyteller approaches: “ ‘Will you trade your donkey for this enchanted rug?’ ” he asks. When the storyteller explains that the carpet, into which “all the stories of the world are woven,” will allow him to support his father through storytelling, Aziz agrees to the trade. But when his father voices his disapproval Aziz returns to the market to find the storyteller and undo the deal. Unsuccessful, Aziz does the only thing he can: he unrolls the carpet and rests. To his surprise, the carpet unravels story after story, crowds gather, and coins rain down from the heavens. Even his father hears his stories and joyfully accepts Aziz’s new vocation. Hughes draws the story to its natural conclusion as Aziz travels westward and eventually passes the carpet along to a younger storyteller, just as he was instructed to do so many years ago. It’s a good yarn, the only flaw being the design: modeled after Arabic lettering, the stylized print—accented and punctuated in red—strains the eye. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56656-456-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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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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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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