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