Bloom by Doreen Cronin

Bloom by Doreen Cronin

Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small (InfoSoup)

Bloom was a fairy who dealt in dirt and plants. She could spin sand into glass and turn small amounts of water into rivers. She lived in a glass kingdom and as the years passed, the kingdom’s inhabitants only saw the mess that Bloom left behind with her mud and not the way that she helped. Bloom finally left and went to live in the forest. More years passed and the glass kingdom started to fall into disrepair. The king remembered the powerful fairy and went to seek her help, because such a creature could only be asked by a monarch. But when Bloom offered the king to save his kingdom with mud, the king stormed off. The queen tried too with similar effect. Finally, they decided that they must send someone ordinary to ask Bloom for help and so Genevieve was selected. It will take a girl working with a fairy to save the kingdom, but even more it will take getting dirty along the way.

Cronin has created a story that is surprising and delightful. This is a fairy tale where girls save the day rather than being rescued by princes. It reads like a traditional fairy tale but with a feminist viewpoint that is not overplayed at all. There is also a beautiful attitude about getting your hands dirty and the fact that hard work is the way to solve problems along with working together.

Small’s illustrations are playful with delicate lines that swoop on the page. They are alive with action, particularly when Bloom is on the page. Small captures the delight of mud and getting dirty, the connection of the two girls, and the efforts that it takes to rebuild a kingdom even with magic. I must also mention the text design, which makes the book a joy to read aloud, creating real feeling around words like MUD and DIRT.

A feminist and intelligent fairy tale just right for modern children. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.


A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins

A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins

A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins (InfoSoup)

There was once a hungry lion in a room in a large number of small animals like a penguin, a pig, a could of bunnies, a mouse, a frog, a bat and many more, including a turtle. But as you turn the pages, more and more animals no longer appear on the page. Soon there is only the pig, a bunny and the turtle. Then only the turtle. Then just the lion and then after looking right at the reader, the lion leaves too and everything goes dark. What do you think happens next?!

Reminiscent of Jon Klassen’s classic I Want My Hat Back, this picture book has a delightful darkness about it. Even better, it toys with that darkness, allowing readers to think all is well right before plunging them right back into it again. It’s rather like a picture book roller coaster ride that will have readers demanding to ride again immediately. Cummins paces the book cleverly, filling it with a sense of impending doom.

The art adds to the emotional twists and turns. Readers can watch the lion’s face for clues, since at times he is far too innocent to actually not have done something wrong. Other times, he appears completely villainous with arched brows and big teeth. Yet all along, things may not be as they seem adding to the delicious tickles of dread.

Dark and delightful, this picture book is one wild ride worth sharing. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.