The Wishing Foxes in The Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews ● Posted 1/19/2017 12:00 am

MacDonald and the Whitmans offer an Appalachian version of "The Kind and the Unkind Girls."

When kindly Bess is sent to fetch water from the Well-at-the-End-of-World, she politely greets the bear, mountain lion, wild boar, and three foxes she meets along the way, even washing the foxes’ faces as they request. In return they reward her. But when her ill-tempered sister, Tess, is sent, she behaves rudely; her repayment is quite different. Modern listeners may wonder if nothaving to go for water might not be a reward rather than a punishment, but the traditional tale is told smoothly and effectively, with a lively, folksy lilt. MacDonald and the Whitmans provide a clear explanation of their sources; they even suggest a tune for those reading aloud to use to sing Bess’ and Tess’ refrains. The text is set directly on Harvill’s stylized illustrations, mostly double-page spreads done with watercolor and cut-paper collage that use page turns effectively and show well. The animals’ facial expressions and body language reflect their reactions. Both sisters are white; Bess has curly, strawberry-blonde hair, while Tess has lank, brown hair. Endpapers with diamonds, gold coins, toads, and kernels of corn reflect the consequences of the girls’ behavior. MacDonald and the Whitmans previously collaborated on Teaching with Story (2013).

Welcome wherever folk tales are popular. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Plum Street Takes World Rights to Feisty Little Flea

Rights Deals, Publishers Weekly ● Posted 9/5/2016

Plum Street Publishers’ Liz Russell Smith took world rights to The Feisty Little Flea, Margaret Read MacDonald’s picture book. MacDonald is writing the title with contributions from Jen and Nat Whitman, and it is based on a French version of the Cinderella story. Diane Greenseid is illustrating the book, which is slated for spring 2018. The authors and illustrator did not use an agent in the deal.

View the article here.

Petit Jean: A Wilderness Adventure in The Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews ● Posted 7/15/2016 12:00 am

A young Frenchwoman masquerades as a boy in order to accompany her fiance to the New World in 1732.

In this retelling of an Arkansas legend, a young Parisian chevalier named André is given a land grant by Louis XV. Unwilling to be separated from him, André’s fiancee, Marguerite, disguises herself as a cabin boy. She secretly wears a golden medallion inscribed with the word Courage, a gift from King Louis. André sails to New Orleans unaware that Marguerite is aboard, though others recognize her. Marguerite becomes known as “Petit Jean” because of her small stature. Nearly a year elapses before André realizes that Marguerite has been by his side for the whole expedition. The original tale has been expanded by Jones to flesh out the historical account with details about the slave trade, the local Quapaw and Osage tribes, and the motivations of the French colonists as the explorers travel along the coasts of Cuba, Belize, and Louisiana. Very short chapters and simple prose help retain the legend’s folk characteristics. Light illustrations in pen and ink are supplemented by a period map that bookends the story, putting it into context. This novella could well serve as a starting point for inquiry into the colonial period.

The intense regional focus means the book will appeal mainly to visitors to the area and teachers of Arkansas history. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 7-11)