September 1, 2016 Booklist 117 www.booklistonline.com
spring, a reminder of new possibilities. Pair
with Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander’s
This Is the Earth (2016) for another look at
nature and the role of children. —Edie Ching
The Princess and the Warrior.
By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the
Oct. 2016. 40p. Abrams, $16.95 (9781419721304).
Sibert-winning Tonatiuh (Funny Bones,
2015) brings to his books a richness in text
and illustration, and this retelling of a Mexican
legend is no exception. Two great volcanoes,
Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, stand outside
of today’s Mexico City and have been the inspiration for many folktales and origin stories.
Using stylized images (based on several ancient
Mixtec codices), Tonatiuh reminds us of the
highly developed cultures that came up with
these stories. This particular myth centers on
a great love, a great warrior, and a great deceit.
A beautiful princess
falls in love with a
soldier, Popoca, to
her father’s dismay.
The emperor tells
Popoca that if he
defeats the village’s
greatest enemy, he
can marry the princess. Popoca is on the brink
of success, when treachery and miscommuni-cation leads to tragedy. A glossary of the many
Nahuatl words used in the text (some of which
have become part of spoken Spanish today)
is included, and the illustrations are compelling and dramatic in the contrast of lights
and darks. Tonatiuh’s characteristic round
heads and figures in profile add a classic element (be sure to look under the book jacket
for two powerful images). The appealing story,
compelling illustrations, and celebration of the
Aztec culture make this a sure thing for those
looking for a story, while an extensive author’s
note goes a step beyond, adding to the impact
of the tale with a great deal of historical and
cultural information. —Edie Ching
Samson in the Snow.
By Philip C. Stead. Illus. by the author.
Sept. 2016. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $17.99
(9781626721821). PreS–Gr. 1.
As a heavy snowstorm descends, a sweet and
gentle woolly mammoth named Samson is very
concerned about a small red bird he recently
befriended over a mutual love of dandelions.
Like the author’s Caldecott-winning A Sick
Day for Amos McGee (2010), this picture book
features a quiet type of thoughtfulness that
makes for a pleasurable, low-key read. Children
will be riveted, though, by Samson’s journey to
locate the feathered fellow. Will he find the
bird before the snow becomes too dangerous?
A mouse he meets on his journey into an increasingly bluish-gray world is eager to help.
Stead has tackled the illustrations without his
partner and wife, Erin, this time around, and
the pictures have a sturdy feel, grounded by the
mastodon’s large, reddish-brown figure. The
bird is omnipresent in Samson’s thoughts, and
his beakful of yellow flowers provides bright
bursts of color. As Samson continues his jour-
ney, readers will perceive that he’s also moving
toward a happy chance for friendship. A lovely
tale for a peaceful storytime. —Karen Cruze
A Squiggly Story.
By Andrew Larsen. Illus. by Mike Lowery.
Sept. 2016. 32p. Kids Can, $18.95 (9781771380164).
From the first pages, festooned with writing
utensils, this story invites readers to think and
create. The young protagonist, a cheery, brown-skinned boy, watches as his sister, an avid
reader and writer, scrawls a story in a notebook.
“I wish I could write a story,” he says, “but I
don’t know many words.” His sister encourages
him to try anyway, and soon he’s using individual letters and doodled squiggles creatively
to tell a tale. A circle is a ball, Vs become waves,
and soon he and his sister, I and U, are playing
soccer on the beach. An upside-down V adds
conflict: a shark has arrived! As his story grows
with his sister’s encouragement—“It’s your story. You’re the boss”—the narrative moves from
his scribbled symbols to cartoonish inset images, which become even more elaborate when
he shares his story with his class and they begin
to offer suggestions. This playful multilayered
story about sparking the mind is loaded with
opportunities for readers to consider different
kinds of storytelling. —Annie Greengoss
By Rebecca Young. Illus. by Matt
Oct. 2016. 40p. Dial, $17.99 (9780735227774).
In gorgeously illustrated seascapes, Young
and Ottley tell a lyrical tale of leaving home
and finding a new one. With a bundle of be-
longings, including a teacup containing earth
from his homeland, a boy sets sail in a row-
boat. His journey is marked by both calm seas
and stormy ones, dark nights and bright days,
Meanwhile, the reflec-
tion of the sky on the
sea is at times so crystal
clear that the perspec-
tive often goes thrillingly topsy-turvy. While
the journey and its inherent uncertainty is
naturally a fitting metaphor for growing up,
connections to actual sea travel and subtle
hints about turmoil in the boy’s homeland
suggest connections to immigration stories as
well. There’s much to ponder here, and with
an ending involving a fellow traveler and her
eggcup of dirt, little ones likely have lots of
questions about family, home, and belonging.
This pleasantly minimalist and contemplative
story is quietly thought-provoking and arrest-
ingly beautiful. —Sarah Hunter
A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly)
True Story of the First International
Flight by Balloon in 1785.
By Matthew Olshan. Illus. by Sophie
Oct. 2016. 40p. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374329549). Gr. 1–3.
Rarely has a story of a historic first been
so silly. Olshan and Blackall together tell the
somewhat fictionalized tale of American (then
English) Dr. John Jeffries and French Jean-Pierre Blanchard’s first international journey
by balloon, from England to France, in 1785.
The two blustery men—and their dogs, Henry
and Henri—don’t get along, but when their
balloon starts sinking fast, they quickly concoct a plan. And what a plan! When dumping
all their extra baggage (including their clothes)
still doesn’t do the trick, they decide to evacuate (their bladders). Those last few ounces are
enough to get them aloft again, though their
arrival in France is less than grand. Blackall’s
signature watercolor illustrations, in a vintage
palette and full of old-fashioned details, amp
up the levity with humorous comic strips
showcasing the balloonists’ over-the-top arguments, and depictions of the dogs’ anguished
reactions to their owners’ egos. An author’s
note sifts fact from fiction, and while the historic journey is notable, kids will likely be more
drawn in by the farcical details and clownish
bickering. —Sarah Hunter
The Water Princess.
By Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel.
Illus. by Peter H. Reynolds.
Sept. 2016. 40p. Putnam, $17.99 (9780399172588).
Verde joins Badiel (fashion model and clean-
drinking-water activist) to create a story based
on Badiel’s childhood experiences in Burkina
Faso, one of many African countries where
women walk miles every day to fetch water.
In it, the fictional protagonist—Princess Gie
Gie—and her mother set off for the river be-
fore dawn, and they return at dusk. Gie Gie’s
frustration is evident at first, but it soon dis-
sipates in the romance of the walk with her
mother. They sing and laugh and dance, bathed
in the golden glow of Reynolds’ charming ren-
dition of sunlight on a vast, empty African
plain. Gie Gie’s questions about her village’s
lack of water are unanswered, but her day ends
with a dream of one day bringing water to her
“kingdom.” Rich purple and tawny hues cre-
ate an evocative backdrop to the story, while
the friendly font softens the exhausting, ardu-
ous nature of fetching water. Readers are left to
wonder if the power of dreaming can change
reality, and inquisitive ones might be moved
to look up the true story on Badiel’s website.
Continued from p. 114