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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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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