When a child finds a good stick, there's plenty of entertainment ahead. Not a Stick shows us the magic that happens when such a simple object finds itself in the hands of someone filled with imagination.
In this case, a little pig wields the stick on each page, as an unseen grownup tosses out warnings to "be careful with that stick," and "watch where you point that stick." The pig corrects the speaker with each admonishment, countering, "This is not a stick." And we see exactly what he's talking about, as the same line drawing from the previous page is incorporated into a fantasy scene like leading a parade, riding a horse, and slaying a dragon.
Not a Stick is the followup to Antoinette Portis' award-winning book, Not a Box. Bet you can guess what that one's about ;) Her simple drawings and subtle usage of color capture the essence of these objects, as well as the imaginary adventures. This book reminds me of Harold and the Purple Crayon, in every good way. Highly recommended!
Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked and The Hamlet Chronicles, now treats us to a brand new story about a rogue tooth fairy called What-the-Dickens. Orphaned at birth, this skibberee bumbles his way through his first days of life and tries to find out where he fits in. He'd really like to become the pet of McCavity, a cat who unfortunately lacks a soft spot for winged creatures. He knows he doesn't want to be adopted by the bird who sings off-key. But when he meets Pepper, a tooth fairy on a mission, he thinks he must be on to something.
But skibbereen are suspicious sorts, and Pepper's colony isn't receptive to this stranger. Can he learn enough about their ways and prove himself worthy of belonging to their ranks?
The tale of What-the Dickens is a story-within-a-story and is told by Gage, an older cousin who has come to stay with three children during a natural disaster that cuts them off from power, food, and civilization. Their story runs parallel with the events in What-the-Dickens' life, and eventually intersects in a satisfying twist.
The writing in this book is truly delightful. As I read to Ben, we stopped often to appreciate Maguire's work—amazing descriptions, clever wordplay, ironic coincidences, etc. It was a teensy bit challenging as a read-aloud, only because of the frequent passages of dialog that don't indicate the change in speaker. It's no problem when you're seeing the pages, but a little trickier if you're only hearing it. However, in the hands of a skilled artist, I imagine that this would be a fantastic audiobook!
What-the-Dickens is wonderful modern-day fairy tale. Don't expect to get carried away by the plot, but instead enjoy the humor, the interesting characters, and the unique look at the world of a tooth fairy.
This is a great book. The plot moves along quickly, making for an easy read. The characters are charming and unforgettable—children and tooth fairies alike. Though easy to read, this novel is very exciting. I would recommend this to both young and old readers.
I read about the Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories when Ben was four, but since our library didn't carry it and I just couldn't bring myself to buy a copy for our boy, I never had a chance to see what they were all about. Well, like most decisions I've made along those lines, I regret it. These are such sweet little stories and they are well-suited to children of both the snip-and-snails and sugar-and-spice varieties.
Milly-Molly-Mandy is just one child: a little girl whose real name is Millicent Margaret Amanda. She lives in a nice white cottage with her Father, Mother, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle and Aunty. Originally published in Great Britain in 1928, these stories are good, in the purest sense. Milly-Molly-Mandy is a happy, well-behaved child who's eager to help out her loving family and experience simple adventures with her nice friends.
It might sound a little over-the-top, saccharin sweet, but the stories are actually matter-of-fact and told in plain language. In the edition I read, each story is about 5-10 pages long, featuring fairly large print and at least one illustration. Think of them like warm milk, perfect for the young child who's just barely ready to move beyond picture books. And for kids who enjoy Milly-Molly-Mandy, the Betsy-Tacy series is not to be missed!