THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGDOMS

Harmony has little place in Myers's tale of the antediluvian world. Elephant, Shark, and Hawk rule their respective domains of forest, sea, and air with vicious smugness. When People enter the picture, they have nothing but fear for these three kingdoms until the Elephant falls in a pit. Around the campfire, the People devise a way to help, and the grateful beast wants to share his forest. Emboldened by their success, the People then subdue Shark and Hawk with tricks, and demand their right of access. The domination of nature is the heart of this matter; the emphasis is on the evil of the natural world, a threatening place where animals need humiliation meted out by Homo sapiens, and peaceable kingdom be damned. For youngsters, it is a message that sneers in the face of cohabitation, and some of the closing lines of the book—"We do not need to be masters of earth. We can share because it is wise to do so"—feel hollow to the core. Bryan's hyperbright illustrations cannot hold interest in the wake of the overbearing text; the designwork that appears among the pages comes across as unrelated, forgettable bijouterie. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 30, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-024286-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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THE DOG THAT DUG FOR DINOSAURS

This easy reader for children reading at the fluency level recounts the story of a girl named Mary Ann Anning and her dog, Tray. They lived on the coast of England in the early 1800s, although the time frame is given only as “a long, long time ago.” Mary Ann and Tray became famous for their discoveries of fossils, including dinosaur bones. They discovered the first pterodactyl found in England, and the name was assigned to their fossil. The story focuses a little too much on the dog, and the title misses a great opportunity to completely acknowledge a girl accomplishing something important in the scientific world, especially in a much earlier era and without formal training or education. Despite this drawback, both Mary Ann and Tray are appealing characters and the discovery of the fossils and subsequent notice from scientists, collectors, and even royalty is appealing and well written. Sullivan’s illustrations provide intriguing period details in costumes, tools, and buildings, as well as a clever front endpaper of fossil-strewn ground covered with muddy paw prints. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85708-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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GOONEY BIRD GREENE

Gooney Bird Greene (with a silent E) is not your average second grader. She arrives in Mrs. Pidgeon’s class announcing: “I’m your new student and I just moved here from China. I want a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything.” Everything about her is unusual and mysterious—her clothes, hairstyles, even her lunches. Since the second graders have never met anyone like Gooney Bird, they want to hear more about her. Mrs. Pidgeon has been talking to the class about what makes a good story, so it stands to reason that Gooney will get her chance. She tells a series of stories that explain her name, how she came from China on a flying carpet, how she got diamond earrings at the prince’s palace, and why she was late for school (because she was directing a symphony orchestra). And her stories are “absolutely true.” Actually, they are explainable and mesh precisely with the teacher’s lesson, more important, they are a clever device that exemplify the elements of good storytelling and writing and also demonstrate how everyone can turn everyday events into stories. Savvy teachers should take note and add this to their shelf of “how a story is made” titles. Gooney Bird’s stories are printed in larger type than the narrative and the black-and-white drawings add the right touch of sauciness (only the cover is in color). A hybrid of Harriet, Blossom, and Anastasia, irrepressible Gooney Bird is that rare bird in children’s fiction: one that instantly becomes an amusing and popular favorite. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-23848-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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