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Iceland is a very windy place. Going for a walk can be challenging. The ladies in one village, with the help of the chickens, set out to stop the wind. But the hungry sheep have other plans. Why aren't there any trees in the Icelandic countryside? This original tale will tell you why and leave you smiling at the determination of the ever-singing Icelandic ladies and their steadfast chickens.
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The ladies thought their singing was working.
The sheep were eating only grass.
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Gunnella's paintings have a narrative quality about them, and people always smile when viewing her art at an exhibition. I saw a book in them, and now a second book. Though humor fills her art, Gunnella is a serious painter, perhaps one of Iceland's finest present day artists, and I am honored that she has done our second book and is going on to our third book.
Gunnella and Bruce
Painter and Author
photo by Jón Örn Friðriksson
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July 23, 2005
"Another winning round."
"Readers will be grateful that McMillan and Gunnella have resisted the urge to scout around for new subject matter."
The review included an illustration from the book.
|How the Ladies Stopped the Wind
Bruce McMillan, illus. by Gunnella. Houghton/Lorraine, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-77330-5
The team that made stars of a group of Icelandic ladies in The Problem with Chickens returns for another winning round. It hardly matters what they're up to - Gunnella's flat, deadpan oil portraits of the ladies, their polka-dot aprons and their hapless chickens are inherently funny, and every page contains another visual poke in the ribs. This time, the wind troubles them, as the thick-legged ladies are being blown sideways by brisk gusts, and they have to hold onto fence posts so they don't fly away. The ladies decide to plant trees to break the force of the gale, then discover that the sheep find young trees very appetizing (the distraught ladies line up like chess pieces and sing "Please, please don't eat the trees!" to a herd of perplexed sheep). Next, a trio of moon-faced ladies exhorts an earnest cow, "Please herd the sheep away from the trees. Please lead them to the grass." Their plan succeeds in the villages but fails out in the country, where the sheep just can't be prevented from eating the trees. As it turns out, though, that's just as well: "In the Icelandic countryside," McMillan concludes, "you can still see forever." Readers will be grateful that McMillan and Gunnella have resisted the urge to scout around for new subject matter; the ladies and their animal companions possess enough charm to fill several more books. Ages 4-8.
This copyrighted © review originally appeared in Publishers Weekly and appears here with permission. www.publishersweekly.com
The Horn Book magazine
"The creators deliver another amusingly unconventional tale."
"The droll humor of Gunnella's flat oil paintings is a perfect match for his wry, economical text."
How the Ladies Stopped the Wind;
illus. by Gunnella 32 pp.
The review included
page 7 from the book.
|Taking a walk in windy Iceland can be challenging, so the village ladies make a plan. They plant trees throughout the village and countryside to block the wind. The helpful chickens, the ladies' close compatriots, supply plenty of fertilizer, but the curious sheep soon discover the tasty tree buds, prompting new strategies. McMillan's original pourquoi* tale explains the villages full of trees scattered throughout the otherwise treeless Icelandic landscape. The droll humor of Gunnella's flat oil paintings is a perfect match for his wry, economical text. Two women and several chickens gaze at evergreen saplings because "they were sure the trees grew faster when they were watching them." A row of sheep, precisely aligned at a forty-five-degree-angle tilt (that wind, you know), watches a family picnic inside the tree-protecting fence. And Gunnella's imagining of the ladies lying down out of the wind is sublime: the round bellies of three prone chickens mimic the curves of the peaceful woman lying in the foreground, all echoing the rolling green and purple hills beyond. Having successfully solved The Problem with Chickens (rev. 11 /05) in their first collaboration, the creators deliver another amusingly unconventional tale. L.A.
* FYI: A pourquoi story, also known as an origin story is a fictional narrative that explains why something is the way it is, for example why a snake has no legs, or why a tiger has stripes. Many legends and folk tales are pourquoi stories.
L.A. is Lauren Adams, a children's literature specialist and former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine, who has taught children's and young adult literature in the Boston area.
This copyrighted © review originally appeared in The Horn Book Magazine and appears here with permission. www.hbook.com
September 15, 2005
"McMillan's second tale about the clever Icelandic women and their livestock is as charming as his first."
"The folk-art pictures, thickly painted in rich colors, match the lively folk-tale tone; the women . . . are as comforting as they are clever."
How the Ladies Stopped the Wind
McMillan, Bruce (Author)
Sept 2007. 32 p. Houghton/Walter Lorraine, hardcover, $16.00. (0618773304).
McMillan's second tale about the clever Icelandic women and their livestock is as charming as his first, The Problem with Chickens (2005). The extreme wind on Iceland makes going for a walk very difficult. The solution? The women plant trees. Worried that the sheep will eat the young plants, the ladies and their daughters sing to the sheep: "Please, please, don't eat the trees." The chickens provide fertilizer, the cows herd the sheep to the pasture, and the ladies build a fence around the village. As the trees grow up, so do women's daughters, who have children of their own. The folk-art pictures, thickly painted in rich colors, match the lively folk-tale tone; the peasant women with round faces, stubby legs, patterned aprons, and colorful babushkas are as comforting as they are clever. - Julie Cummins
This copyrighted © review originally appeared in Booklist and appears here with their permission. www.ala.org
September 1, 2007
"The homey tale combined with the folksy, funny illustrations makes for an extremely winning combination."
How the Ladies Stopped the Wind
Illus. by Gunnella
The Iceland in this fable is one in which the village women are in cahoots with their farm animals and able to plant and protect beautiful trees in order to stop the wild wind that makes it hard to walk. The charming folk-art illustrations show that the women's greatest helpers are the rather self-satisfied-looking hens. Initial attempts to grow trees are unsuccessful because of the fierce winds and some obstructive sheep. While the chickens are most helpful by producing a multitude of fertilizer, the sheep eat and kill the trees. So the ladies ask the cows to distract the sheep. Things seem to be working, although the chickens can be a little too prolific in their production of fertilizer. Fortunately, said fertilizer is so strong that it keeps the animals away. So long as the descendants of these smart ladies sing to the chickens, the trees are fertilized and the houses are protected from the fury of the wind. Gunnella is especially talented at showing humor and quirky characterization in her paintings. She demonstrates the wind by showing animals and people hanging up in the air at a distinctive tilt. The homey tale combined with the folksy, funny illustrations makes for an extremely winning combination. (Picture book. 3-8)
This copyrighted © review originally appeared in Publishers Weekly, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.and appears here with permission. www.kirkusreviews.com
School Library Journal
"This book will be useful not only for story times, but also in classroom units on ecology."
MCMILLAN, Bruce. How the Ladies Stopped the Wind. illus. by Gunnella. 32p. CIP. Houghton. 2007. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-618-77330-5. LC 2007004207.
K-Gr 3-It is very windy in Iceland, and going for a walk can be challenging. So what did the ladies of one village decide? Why, that they would plant trees, in the village and in the countryside, to act as a windbreak. The chickens help, by providing an abundance of fertilizer. But once the sheep discover how tasty the little trees are, they eat them. The ladies replant, and build a fence around the village. The chickens fertilize, the sheep stay out with the cows, and all is well-until the sheep once more discover the tasty trees outside the fence. But thanks to the ladies (and to the chickens!), no matter how barren the fields may be, there are many beautiful trees in each village in Iceland. The illustrations are done in a faux-naif folk-art style in intensely colorful oils, perfect for depicting a village set among beautiful scenic hills near the ocean, and the cover, showing a mother pushing a baby carriage and three chickens being blown clear off the ground by wind, will invite any young reader to open the book and see what on earth is happening. Reminiscent of Carol Greene's * The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats (HarperCollins, 1991; o.p.), this book will be useful not only for story times, but also in classroom units on ecology.-Marian Drabkin, Richmond Public Library, CA
This copyrighted © review originally appeared in the New York Times Book Review. www.slj.com
* The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats by Carol Greene, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski; School Library Journal, 1991
PreS-Gr 3-- An ecological tale in which the interdependent chain of cows, clover, bees, sailors, and cats on an island is shattered. The story is presented with humor and charm in a melodious, smoothly flowing text and crisp, dynamically symmetrical, expressive pictures done in gouache and colored pencils. The old ladies' cats prevent the field mice from stealing the honeycombs, thus keeping the bees active pollinating the clover, which feeds the cattle that produce the milk to nourish the sailors who protect the island from pirates. But when the mayor falls over a cat one night, he orders the old ladies to confine their felines after dark. The natural order dissolves, leaving the island easy prey for invaders--until the wise old ladies set the mayor straight. In an elegantly executed variety of full-, double-, and half-page spreads, the industrious cats, sweetly vacant-faced cows, manly youths, fuzzy mice, nefarious villains, and concerned townsfolk parade against a background of lush green meadows, pink clover, a jade ocean, and a flower-gardened village. The lesson is a treat for the eye and the ear. --Patricia Pearl, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Harvest season brings new crop of books for fall
By Nicholas A. Basbanes
For the Tribune-Review
Sunday, October 21, 2007
"Bruce McMillan's original tale earns numerous laughs from the droll paintings of Gunnella, with visual gag lines aplenty on every page."
How the Ladies Stopped the Wind, story by Bruce McMillan, illustrations by Gunnella; Houghton Mifflin, 32 pages, ages 4-8, $16.
The singing ladies of Iceland -- we met this pleasant group in The Problem with Chickens -- have decided to make it easier to walk through the windy countryside by planting some trees in a manner that would make Johnny Appleseed proud.
There are, you see, no trees to speak of in the Icelandic countryside, but that doesn't deter this determined group, whose plucky chickens croon to the pesky sheep, "Please, please, don't eat the trees." But the sheep like the tasty buds on the tender branches, and making a success of the venture turns out to be one tall order.
Bruce McMillan's original tale earns numerous laughs from the droll paintings of Gunnella, with visual gag lines aplenty on every page. Some pair, these singing ladies and their musical chickens; we'll see more of them in the future, no doubt about that.