cover image The Knee-High Man

The Knee-High Man

William Miller. Gibbs Smith Publishers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87905-634-6

Towered over by rabbits and toads, a tiny African American man longs to be ""the biggest, the loudest, the meanest creature in all the forest."" He asks a horse how he got to be so big; although he follows the horse's advice ""to eat buckets of corn and run at least twenty miles,"" it leaves him even shorter than before. When a wise owl takes the man for a flight and shows him how all creatures are equally small from that heightened perspective, the little man makes peace with his size. Miller's (Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree) well-paced, amiable retelling of this African American folktale is a little overwhelmed by Glidden's high-intensity dye-on-silk illustrations, which fully occupy each spread. The draftsmanship and composition can be rudimentary, but the brilliance of the hues-densely saturated ultramarines, turquoises, ochres-compels attention. Some will find it gauche; others will enjoy its boldness. Ages 4-7. (Feb.)