Kirkus Review of Jackdaw and the Doll

Excerpts from Kirkus’s just released review of The Jackdaw and the Doll.

“Kafka becomes a winged storyteller in this picture book’s loose, biographical fable. K leaves his family just as his illness gets worse. In a summary of his life, readers learn that for years his “night-flights,” hidden from his strict father, have enabled him to spread visible, feathery wings as a storyteller even as he works as a clerk by day. K is stalked by The Shroud, rendered as a formless, dripping dark hand, which has pursued him since childhood and manifests, K thinks, as the sickness taking over his lungs. In a vivid image, K hides from the hand beneath a bright yellow umbrella. But relief from this dread is possible through two figures—Dora, who, holding hands with K as a bird, flies to a new city, and Frieda, a small girl whose lost doll becomes the focus of K’s mythical, last, long-term literary effort. Best for young readers with a taste for the gothic, Yokoyama’s graphite illustrations with flashes of yellow show a White cast. They fashion an understated, symbolic elegy for a famous literary voice … Poetic descriptions of Kafka’s storytelling deftly capture the relationship between existential terror and creative production … Accomplished, graceful mythmaking for children who intuit artistic inspiration’s dark side.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, performer, and playwright, John Biscello, has lived in the high-desert grunge-wonderland of Taos, New Mexico since 2001. He is the author of four novels, Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, Nocturne Variations, and No Man’s Brooklyn; a collection of stories, Freeze Tag, two poetry collections, Arclight and Moonglow on Mercy Street; and a fable, The Jackdaw and the Doll, illustrated by Izumi Yokoyama. He also adapted classic fables, which were paired with the vintage illustrations of artist, Paul Bransom, for the collection: Once Upon a Time, Classic Fables Reimagined. His produced, full-length plays include: LOBSTERS ON ICE, ADAGIO FOR STRAYS, THE BEST MEDICINE, ZEITGEIST, U.S.A., and WEREWOLVES DON’T WALTZ.
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