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Publishers Weekly Review
Pinfold's (Black Dog) finely worked paintings distinguish this story about a babylike "Greenling" who makes fruit and vegetables grow everywhere. Mr. Barleycorn finds what looks like a giant artichoke near his house under an elevated railway line and comes home with a bright green baby, which he settles in a mound of soil in the kitchen ("We can't leave him outside for the crows," he tells his wife). Surreal, marvelously detailed spreads reveal the Greenling's gratitude; melons twine through the kitchen, and apples grow in the living room. The man welcomes the bounty, but his wife grouses. Yet the next morning, as the railway is overtaken by vines and the neighbors complain, she defends the strange infant: "We should welcome this Greenling into our house/ we've been living in his all along!" The Greenling is nature's bounty personified, it is clear; after delivering autumn plenty for all, he disappears, though Pinfold hints at more to come. The verse-text is oddly heavy-handed, and the allegorical nature of the story keeps the characters at a distance, but Pinfold's vision of the natural world breaking free of human fetters is captivating. Ages 3-7. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* In measured rhyme, Pinfold (Black Dog, 2012) tells the story of Mr. Barleycorn, a man who brings home an odd green baby he found on his land. His wife wants him to get rid of it, but You cannot return for a refund. / A baby is not like a hat. / What's picked is picked, what's done is done, / and that, Barleycorns, is that. So, despite his wife's complaints, Mr. Barleycorn gives the baby a pile of dirt for a bed and lets him grow and soon, nature begins to run wild. The Greenling's influence seeps throughout the Barleycorn's house: trees grow over their television, lavender surrounds their bed, and grass and sunflowers sprout out of the walls and the telephone. When the townspeople, angry that their plants are taking over, call for the Barleycorns to get rid of the child, Mrs. Barleycorn changes her mind: We should welcome this Greenling into our house, / we've been living in his all along! The rhyme scheme is gentle and soothing, and Pinfold's luminous mixed-media illustrations are gloriously strange. This fable about the power of the outside world and the balance between technology and nature is important, and the story itself is haunting and austere.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2016 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
When a green baby creature appears on their remote Australian farm, the Barleycorns take it in, nurture it, and become part of its natural worldat least for a season. The intricate paintings in this haunting fantasy have an ominous edge right from the sepia-toned title page that shows a small wooden farmhouse snug against a railroad trestle in an otherwise vast and empty landscape. In the story, after the husband takes the baby in, he, his wary wife, and even commuters stranded at their farm by the sudden rampant expansion of all growing things, enjoy the fruits of a lush summer. But the Greenling is a creature of summer, and when fall comes, he, like the growing plants, disappears, leaving who knows what to come. A final double-page spread shows wind vanes instead of power lines, green grass and small flowers growing, but no visible humans. The rhyme and insistent rhythmic pulse of the text add a sense of inevitability. This ecological fable, a British import, has the folkloric atmosphere of Pinfold's Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Black Dog (2012). It will have sinister overtones for those who know that according to folklore, John Barleycorn's life ends with folks drinking his blood, but most readers will simply enjoy the artist's surreal vision and detailed imagery, which includes surprising Australian fauna. Chilling and thought-provoking, this picture book for older readers invites discussion. (Picture book. 9 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.