Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A pair of brothers share one trait: a disinclination toward work. Clever Rabby provides for his family by looting food from the spirit-folk whose well-stocked house floats in the sky. Given the right commands, the house descends and its door opens. Privy to the passwords, Rabby times his break-ins to coincide with the absence of the inhabitants-hairy, claw-handed creatures with backward feet. But when bumbling Boukee adopts his brother's scheme, he is distracted by his greed and nearly trapped in the spirit house. After his lucky getaway, the spirit-folk wise up, the food source dries up and the reformed brothers take to growing their own comestibles. As he explains in an author's note, San Souci (The Talking Eggs) mixes traditional Bahamian story elements, then gives his telling the rhythmical inflections of native dialogue (``Why you didn't come for me at day-clean?'' Boukee asks Rabby). Through animated facial expressions and lively gestures, Clay's (Little Eight John) acrylic paintings supercharge the well-crafted text. However, his literal interpretation, especially of the gruesome-looking spirit-folk, diminishes his work's staying power. An innocent, jovial romp in the thrill of devilish trespass. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Sky spirits leave their cloud house unattended and two lazy brothers decide to forage through the goodies. It is easier than working. But the spirits, hairy giants with claw hands and feet on backwards, come back to the house. Sizzling colors of the Caribbean glow, washed with tropical sun. Highly animated characters tickle and treat the readers in this mythological comedy with a happy ending.
Children's Literature - Leslie Verzi Julian
Told in the tradition of Bahamian storytellers, this tale is filled with enchantment, colorful characters, and a strong message. It is the story of two neighbors, the clever Rabby with a full belly and the greedy Boukee with an empty belly and an empty head. It turns out that Rabby has been stealing food from the spirit family. When the magic word, "kabanja" reveals a wealth of food, it is too much for Boukee's empty stomach and greedy soul. He becomes so caught up in filling his stomach that he is discovered by the spirit-folk. His narrow escape teaches Boukee a lesson. "Thieving other folks' food" isn't right. From then on, Boukee and Rabby grow their own food.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
All who are familiar with Caribbean folktales will recognize the name Boukee, a trickster, who often gets his comeuppance when his greed gets out of hand. In a cadenced retelling, Robert San Souci tells of the time Boukee and his brother, Rabby, steal food from the House of Spirits. Boukee's greed causes him to be caught by the spirits. He hides butter under his hat, but the spirits stand him near the hot stove. With butter melting down his face, he tries to convince his captors that he hasn't stolen! A deliciously humorous scene. The pictures in vivid shades of red, orange, blue and green make the spirits appropriately frightening.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A vivid traditional tale, both scary and tongue-in-cheek funny, based on common Bahamian folkloric motifs. Lazy but clever Rabby shows his greedy brother Boukee how to find food by stealing from the gigantic spirit-folk while they are away from their sky house. Instead of filling his sack with food, however, Boukee stuffs himself. He is caught and threatened with boiling water, but manages to escape. From that time on, the brothers grow their own food. Though San Souci's text is flavored with dialect and idiom, it is not difficult to read aloud. Clay's illustrations, done in acrylic on canvas, glow with Caribbean warmth, and his spirit-folk are satisfyingly frightening. Wearing fierce headdresses, they are hairy with long claws and backwards feet-an image that will be fascinatingly weird to children. Boukee's roguishly expressive face is wide-eyed as he hides underneath the giants' bed and as butter drips foolishly out from under his hat. San Souci's note gives information about the story and lists sources. Little single-edition folklore from the Bahamas is available, and with the ferocious giant chasing the hapless Boukee across the cover, this book will attract an audience.Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Janice Del Negro
Boukee and his brother, Rabby, are both lazy, but Boukee is also greedy. His greed leads to his downfall after Rabby shows him how to get food from the sky spirits so he does not have to work to feed his family. San Souci notes that he combined several familiar story elements in this tightly woven, humorous Bahamian folktale, and, in fact, Boukee may be more familiar as a traditional figure in Haitian folklore. Clay's paintings depict an environment as colorful as the characters who populate it. Facial expressions are both exaggerated and obvious, and effective placement of the characters' hands and generous use of highlights add a robust liveliness to the visual interpretation.