Books by David Diaz

MAMA, LOOK! by Patricia J. Murphy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 14, 2017

"A cheery springboard for small nature lovers to have their own 'Mama, look!' opportunities. (author and illustrator's note; suggestions for families) (Picture book. 2-4)"
What's better than a young child enjoying a nature walk with Mama? Read full book review >
MAYA'S BLANKET/LA MANTA DE MAYA by Monica Brown
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"As the book ends, Maya's daughter is sleeping under 'her own special, magical manta.' Readers may be eager to tell their own versions of the story—that's how magic works. (author's note, glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-9)"
A familiar tale crosses cultures with almost magical ease. Read full book review >
YES! WE ARE LATINOS! by Alma Flor Ada
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2013

"Still, with only minor flaws, it is a collection both interesting and educational, offering Latino children positive representations of themselves and teaching non-Latino children about the richness and breadth of the Latino experience.(acknowledgements, bibliography, additional resources, index) (Poetry. 10 & up)"
A poetic celebration of the diversity found among Latinos. Read full book review >
MARTÍN DE PORRES by Gary Schmidt
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 19, 2012

"A visual—and, it must be said, spiritual—delight. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)"
With images of surpassing beauty and power and a text both simple and lyrical, Diaz and Schmidt tell the life of the first black saint of the Americas. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2012

"Even listeners who aren't quite sure what some of the words mean will enjoy listening to their soothing, sonorous flow and poring over the pictures to find vivid glimpses of their own and others' lives and dreams. (Picture book. 6 & up)"
A moving poem broadens its potential impact with evocative, dreamlike illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Diaz. Read full book review >
SHARING THE SEASONS by Lee Bennett Hopkins
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 9, 2010

Cheery, upbeat and accessible—and lovely to boot. Veteran poet and anthologist Hopkins makes good choices among contemporary poets young readers might recognize—Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Marilyn Singer, April Halprin Wayland, to name a few—and a few older names, such as Carl Sandburg and William Shakespeare. The brief (none longer than two pages and some only a few lines) poems are grouped by season, and each gets a page of Diaz's astonishing illustrations. They pulse with color, leaping off the page. His signature use of pattern echoes Mexican pottery or silhouette, always in mouthwatering incandescent colors that shade into one another. "Winter tames man, woman and beast" says Shakespeare; Anonymous writes of finding a shady spot in "August Heat": "And sit— / And sit— / And sit— / And sit!" Prince Redcloud makes a shaped autumn poem called "After," and Elizabeth Upton, in "Summer Sun," speaks in the sun's voice: "I linger in the evening / so they can / skip, hop, race / play ball / eat Popsicles…" Good all year round. (Poetry. 7-12)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

A popular peace anthem makes its picture-book debut, with simple lyrics celebrating the hope for a better world. In 1955, a group of 180 teenagers linked arms and hearts and sang this song. It has since been recorded by numerous artists, strummed around campfires and used as a theme for UNICEF. In radiant, familiar Diaz style, peace symbols from around the world illuminate the text. Glowing white doves settle next to curling tufts of grass, while fiery red cranes fly overhead. Teaching world peace is inarguably worthwhile. But the purpose of this song isn't to explain peace; instead, it is a call to individual action. The words "let it begin with me" are powerful—even children can do their part. Will the song resonate as much with young readers as it did with the original teenagers who first banded together? Likely not. But kids play a vital role in changing this world. The more quickly they learn that everyone can make a difference, the better. (CD, sheet music, history of song and composers, list of peace symbols) (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
OCEAN’S CHILD by Christine Ford
ANIMALS
Released: May 12, 2009

In deepening evening, a mother and baby, their fur-trimmed hoods glowing like halos, paddle through waters lit in turn by the setting sun, moon, stars and northern lights. As the pair passes a succession of ocean creatures—mother and baby otters, beluga whales, puffins and more—the text lulls listeners with quiet declarative sentences followed by a patterned refrain: "Baby seal drifts off to sleep, / Her flippers on top of her tummy. / To Ocean's child we say good night. / Good night, little seal, good night." Diaz's luminous jewel tones sparkle with reflected light in stylized compositions whose motifs include watery batik and the totemic iconography of First Nation Alaskans. For family sharing, storytimes and individual browsing—lovely all around. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
EL BARRIO by Debbi Chocolate
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2009

In the barrio lives a boy whose sister is getting ready for her quinceañera. Using the coming-of-age festival for its narrative structure, the book is really a celebration of Latino culture and life in the city, Chocolate's minimal text giving the boy voice as he describes his home: "El barrio is silver-streaked tenements, / neon city streets, / storefront churches, / and bodegas that never sleep." The vibrant illustrations combine woodcuts, painting and collage, all seemingly jumbled together in a riotous blend of color and texture. Depictions of other Latino celebrations and sprinklings of Spanish words add to the beautiful chaos of the illustrations. A collage frame composed of such material as beads, pebbles or tile surrounds each page, informing the composition of the interior image. Color, action and feeling are of utmost importance here and together create a dazzling, flamboyant impression of urban Latino life, bringing Diaz's work to a whole new level. A glossary gives phonetic pronunciations of Spanish words used in the text as well as defining those words. Highly recommended for all collections. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
DIEGO by Carmen Bernier-Grand
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 1, 2009

As she did in Frida: Viva la Vida! Long Live Life! (2007), Bernier-Grand channels the personality of Kahlo's husband in 34 free-verse poems. From the beginning, readers learn that Rivera's truth is mutable: "What is life but a story? / I choose to embellish my life story." Thus he confides to readers that while he "rode the revolutionary hills" in his public story, "In truth,… I boarded a ship to Europe— / a storm of guilt almost sank me in mid-ocean." He is just as frank about his many liaisons and children, mitigating his infidelity with his ardent yearning to create art that celebrated the Mexican people. Where the earlier volume paired poems with Kahlo's art and archival photographs, this mixes some reproductions of Rivera's work with Diaz's stylized, Aztec-inspired mixed-media tableaux. Done in a South-of-the-Border palette, they are undeniably lovely, but serve to distance readers from the vigorous man speaking in the poems. While this effort is not as sublime as its predecessor, it nevertheless makes a worthwhile, if flawed, companion—rather like the man himself. (biographical note, glossary, chronology, sources, "In His Own Words") (Poetry. YA)Read full book review >
THE CASTLE CORONA by Sharon Creech
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 2, 2007

Long ago and far away a royal pouch was dropped in the woods; King Guido became afraid of thieves and poisoners; the peasant children Enzio and Pia became tasters for the king's family; and the contents of the pouch they found revealed their true identities. This lengthy original fairy tale is immensely satisfying both in its telling and its presentation. Each of the three sections begins with a full-page color illustration and each chapter with decorated initial letters and a miniature suggesting the subject. Heavy paper and relatively large, leaded type are two of many sumptuous details that continue throughout. Told in a comforting storyteller's voice (perhaps that of Pia, inspired by the royal family's Wordsmith), the tale unfolds leisurely, with considerable attention to the royal surroundings. Characters are clearly delineated, with the suggestion that all of them, the king and queen, the heir, the spare prince and the spoiled princess, as well as the peasant children, have grown and changed as a result of the events described. A treat for fans of the genre as well as a captivating introduction to it. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
POCAHONTAS by Kathleen Krull
BIOGRAPHY
Released: May 1, 2007

Lush jewel tones illustrate this exploration of the short life of one of the most intriguing figures of colonial American history. Extrapolating from the English sources that are the only documentary accounts of Pocahontas's life, Krull imagines her subject as a spirited, willful child, very conscious of her status as daughter of Chief Powhatan, and curious enough to engage with the new arrivals at Jamestown. Conjecture surrounds the central event in what has become the Pocahontas myth. The narrative economically continues the intertwined stories of Pocahontas's maturation and the travails of the white settlers, depicting a woman forced by circumstance into the role she played but nevertheless accepting it with grace and intelligence. Diaz's stylized illustrations are undeniably gorgeous; however, his rendering of Pocahontas is one of idealized beauty, fuzzy outlines relegating her back to the world of mythology and working against the carefully balanced text. They lack the specificity of Rosalyn Schanzer's illustrations in John Smith Escapes Again (2006) and leave the question of authenticity unresolved. (Picture book/biography. 6-11)Read full book review >
COUNTING OVEJAS by Sarah Weeks
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2006

As comfortable and cozy as the fuzzy pink bunny slippers worn by its peaceful, amply-robed night-capped child, this bilingual bed-time sheep-counting story is an auditory and visual delight. Gorgeously colored sheep with curly wool and black faces and ears leap or are led, pushed, or trundled across blue, green, pink and purple clouds after the parents say good-night: "Buenas noches. / Good night. (bweh-nahs no-chehs)." The Spanish pronunciation is printed in smaller type immediately below the words. The water faucet drips, and the clock ticks. "Shhhhhhhh!" and then the parade of ovejas begins: "Una oveja Blanca. / One white sheep." "¡Adiós, oveja Blanca! Good-bye, white sheep!" The text is repetitious, as a bed-time counting chant should be, varying only in numbers and colors of the sheep. The expressions on the faces of the sheep and the child, the stunning juxtaposition of shapes and colors, the ingeniously varied ways in which the sheep are transported and the potential for teaching colors and numbers in both English and Spanish make this a winner. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
WHO’S THAT BABY? by Sharon Creech
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Except for the first and last entries, Creech writes all of these poems in first-person baby's voice. They are clearly really written for parents and grandparents and they are pretty gooey: "A tisket, a tasket / a baby in the basket! / I'm so snug / and I'm so warm / I'm so cute / I'm just born!" There are verses about swaddled babies, "Baby Burrito," "Banana Baby," ditties about daddies, moms and "Two Big Grandmas." Newbery Medal-winner Creech is a new grandmother, but she never rises to the lovely levels of Stephanie Calmenson's Welcome, Baby! (2002) or Cynthia Rylant's Good Morning Sweetie Pie (2001). Diaz's artwork, however, is just gorgeous. Using his extraordinary mastery of pattern, his babies and their relatives look like stained-glass figures or hieratic saints. The colors glow and the shapes, held by his sinuous line and ensorcelled by floral, marine, astral and geometric designs, are a wonder. (Picture book. 1-3)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2005

Caldecott-winner Diaz's warm, detailed and woodcut-inspired illustrations complement and expand upon Orozco's rhythmic and rhyming texts, a longer one in Spanish, a shorter and more basic one in English. Words and pictures work together to show a young boy rising in the morning, playing with his letter blocks, going to the market—all the while counting, noticing words, enjoying stories and interacting with family members. The simple rhymes employ nonsense syllables in the Spanish version to create a nursery-rhyme sense that's not apparent in the English. A more literal translation and a musical setting follow the illustrated text. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)Read full book review >
CÉSAR by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Aimed at slightly older children than Kathleen Krull's Harvesting Hope (2003), this powerful biography in poems relates incidents in the life of César Chávez with insight and a sense of wonder. "Who could tell / that he with a soft pan dulce voice, / hair the color of mesquite, / and downcast, Aztec eyes, / would have the courage to speak up / for the campesinos." At the time of his death, César did not own a car and had never owned a house. The final words of the last poem are Chávez's own, and a fitting tribute: "True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire." The numerous Spanish phrases will make reading aloud a challenge for non-Spanish speakers, but learning to do so is worth the effort. Backmatter includes notes, a chronology, a list of sources, a prose narrative, a selection from Chávez's own words, and an extensive glossary. Diaz's softly beautiful and illuminating illustrations add much to this already rich celebration of César's life and legacy. (Poetry/biography. 9-12)Read full book review >
THE GOSPEL CINDERELLA by Joyce Carol Thomas
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2004

Those who love reading tales with Cinderella motifs will no doubt want to have this one, however disappointing it might be. Set in a southern swamp, the story revolves around the competition for a place in a gospel choir rather than marriage to a prince. Queen Mother Rhythm loses her infant daughter during a hurricane. Rescued by "Crooked Foster Mother" (a poor choice of names), she lives the typical Cinderella life with the mean twin sisters, Hennie and Minnie, and their mother. She can sing; they cannot. Then they learn that Queen Mother Rhythm is about to retire and she needs someone to take her place as lead singer. The ending is predictable and follows the basic folkloric story structure. But Thomas's telling, despite moments of soulful jive, mostly clumps along without charm. Diaz's use of rich bold colors of purples, pinks, and leafy greens in strikingly patterned illustrations is spirited and beautiful, but is not enough to redeem the lackluster text. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
FELIZ NAVIDAD by Jose Feliciano
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

A brief text describing Puerto Rican and international Christmas customs introduces Feliciano's well-known song, written, "one cold North American Christmas season, when at age twenty-four, he was homesick for his native Puerto Rico." The pictures accompanying the song depict two Christmases. The first half is in Puerto Rico, with palm trees, chiles, and flowers in the background as musicians travel from house to house, singing and playing guitars, drums, maracas, and accordions. In the second half, celebrations are in snowy landscapes, with Santa hats, wrapped gifts, a snowman, and steaming cups of cider. In both "the real miracle of Christmas is in the power of giving and in the wonderful connections people make with each other around his enchanting holiday." Diaz's bold, colorful pages create a celebratory rhythm and invite readers to contemplate the similarities and differences in the two settings." The implied stories and the numerous Christmas symbols provide much to discuss, and may well inspire readers to engage in celebrations of their own. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
THE POT THAT JUAN BUILT by Nancy Andrews-Goebel
NONFICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Ingeniously crafted with a three-part structure, this informational picture book tells the story of Juan Quezada of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico, who single-handedly rediscovered the processes and materials used by the long-vanished Casas Grandes Indians to create fine pottery. Fascinated by the ancient potsherds he found as a child, Quezada knew that this pottery had to have been made using only natural materials found in the area, and so began to experiment until he was able to create pottery that resembled these ancient fragments. The result, after many years, has been the transformation of his impoverished village into a thriving community of craftspeople, and the creation of astonishingly beautiful pottery that is now found in museums and art galleries around the world. Andrews-Goebel tells this story by interweaving a rhyme patterned on "The House that Jack Built" ("This is the cock that crowed at dawn / That greeted the village and woke up Juan") with a prose telling of Quezada's story ("When he was twelve years old, while bringing firewood down from the hills on his burro, Juan found his first potsherds"). A final section that includes small photographs provides additional factual and background information. Based on the author's visits with Quezada to make a documentary film, no additional sources of information are provided. Diaz's (Angel Face, 2001, etc.) characteristic illustrations, with colors somewhat muted by the earth tones of clay, reflect Quezada's intricate, swirling pottery designs in background patterns, and capture, in a stylized manner, the ambience of the little village on the high windy plains of Chihuahua and the drama of Juan's discoveries. A lovely and unusual offering. (Nonfiction/picture book. 6+)Read full book review >
ANGEL FACE by Sarah Weeks
by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by David Diaz
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2002

While picking blackberries with his mother, a little boy is enticed by a blue butterfly and wanders away. His mother persuades Old Crow to find the child and begins describing her Angel Face to him. Old Crow begins looking for the child with dusty almonds for eyes, a mango sliver for a mouth, and hair like a rushing river, but Old Crow can only find a little boy with a face that is "plainer than a cricket." Not wanting to return to the distraught woman empty-handed, he wakes the boy and leads him back to her. She immediately embraces the little boy, repeating her claims of his beauty. She tells Old Crow, "I knew you'd know it anyplace, my Angel's Face." The rhyming couplets and rich, descriptive language make the text as beautiful as the artwork swirling around it. Richly colored illustrations rendered in pastel on textured paper fill each double-paged spread. With a nod to the folk-art tradition, the paintings could stand alone from the text They are softer than Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Roadrunner's Dance, 2000, etc.) usual work and a perfect accompaniment. A CD by the author-songwriter is included. A tribute to the unique beauty of every child and the special love of a mother for her son. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
ROADRUNNER’S DANCE by Rudolfo Anaya
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

Inspired by his interest in traditional creation stories, the highly respected Anaya (Farolitos for Abuelo, 1999, etc.) teams up with Caldecott medalist Diaz (Jump Rope Magic, p. 390, etc.) to present an original story explaining the existence of that most unusual Southwestern bird, the roadrunner. Anaya's prose has the cadences of oral telling, and Diaz's bright images with golden auras are both energetic and folk-like. The story begins with the grandly dazzling Snake, a self-proclaimed "king of the road," who terrifies children and their parents. The Elders of the people go to Desert Woman, creator of all the desert animals, for help in controlling him. Desert Woman gives Snake a rattle (making him Rattlesnake), but that only makes him bolder and more terrifying. Then, with the help of the other animals (gifts of long legs from Deer, sharp eyes from Coyote, etc.), Desert Woman creates Roadrunner, breathing life into him and giving him the gift of dance. Finally, Desert Woman encourages the awkward Roadrunner to practice until he can dance well enough to challenge and defeat Rattlesnake. Disappointingly, the prose is often wordy and uneven, with short simple sentences (" ‘Look at me,' Rattlesnake said to the animals,") alternating with the more complex ("However, instead of inhibiting Rattlesnake, the rattle only made him more threatening"). The story bogs down and goes on too long, perhaps because it is really three stories rather than one. Multiple messages about the value of cooperation and respect, the value of individual gifts, and the importance of practice may be too many and too explicit for what seems at heart to be a simple pourquoi tale. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
THE DISAPPEARING ALPHABET by Richard Wilbur
ABC BOOKS
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

The joining of the talents of the incandescent Diaz and the wry, venerable Wilbur has produced an enchanting picture book. "If the alphabet began to disappear,/Some words would soon look raggedy and queer" is the premise, and so Wilbur muses, one short verse for every letter, on what might happen if it faded away. The possibilities are droll, and his thoughts puckish, e.g., if the letter B, "were absent, say, from BAT and BALL,/There'd be not big or little leagues AT ALL," and "At breakfast time, the useful letter T/Preserves us all from eating SHREDDED WHEA." Diaz's computer-generated illustrations are a glorious foil for the poems; in glowing stained-glass hues and candy colors, he makes silhouettes and cut-outs, curlicues and patterns reminiscent of everything from ColorForms to Mexican papercuts. The figures are imagined strongly and with humor; for W, a werewolf and watermelon share the stage, while a Roman legionnaire appears with Wilbur's mince pie and marshmallows for the letter (and Roman numeral) M. It's a sly—and beautiful—upending of the world of letters. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
THE LITTLE SCARECROW BOY by Margaret Wise Brown
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 30, 1998

Diaz softens his palette and simplifies his lines for a story from Brown, about growing up and steadfast parental love. The little scarecrow boy practices the frightening faces the old man scarecrow makes daily to keep the crows away, but the child remains at home while the adult goes to work. The boy sneaks into the field and plies his trade, but one scary face after the other fails to keep the crows at bay. The sixth and final face does the trick—but was the old man scarecrow nearby, helping the neophyte? Children who don't mind the creepy contortions of the scarecrows' fiercest faces will love the repetitions of the text, while the happy oranges, reds, and yellows bring sunshine to every page. The deceptively simple story conveys a powerful and reassuring message. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
DECEMBER by Eve Bunting
Kirkus Star
by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

An understated holiday story with dazzling art, by the duo behind Smoky Night (1994) and Going Home (1996). Simon and his mom live in a cardboard box, but they have a scrap of a Christmas tree, some found decorations including Simon's toy soldier, and an angel on the wall, named December, tom from an old calendar. On Christmas Eve, an old woman begs them to share their box, and they let her in, where Simon offers her one of the two cookies he is saving for Christmas day. In the morning, the old woman is gone, and the angel herself, singing softly, seems to fill the doorway before fading away. The next Christmas Eve finds Simon and his mother in a real apartment She has found a job, and the December angel is on their new wall. Diaz's acrylic, watercolor, and gouache paintings have the monumentality and intensity of stained glass, with their flat planes of color and black outlines. The agitation of some of his work has been subsumed into a gentler and more emotionally resonant style, set against collage backgrounds full of roses and angels. The angel, with the wings of the feathered cloak of a Mesoamerican goddess, is a glorious creation. Seen in almost every spread in a glowing palette of rose and gold, she draws the eye and the heart again and again. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
GOING HOME by Eve Bunting
by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 30, 1996

From the Caldecott Medal—winning team behind Smoky Night (1994), the story of a migrant family returning to Mexico for the Christmas holidays. Carlos and his sisters are not at all sure that "home" is Mexico, although they were born there. It is difficult for them to understand their parents' enthusiasm for the long journey and for the tiny town of La Perla at the end of it. A tender revelation, when Carlos realizes that his parents left the place they deeply loved to provide their children with "opportunities," ties the tale of the journey to the season, the moment, and the future. Diaz creates an explosion of color in his familiar format of a visual environment that is whole and entire: He designed the eccentric, legible typeface; set the framed illustrations and text blocks on digitally enhanced photographs of flowers, pottery, baskets, and folk art; and filled the pictures with his signature saturated colors in bold, broad planes. These do not bind readers to the tale any more than the words do, hinting at the depth of parental love and sacrifice while distancing children from genuine understanding. An affectionate, but not exceptional offering. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
JUST ONE FLICK OF A FINGER by Marybeth Lorbiecki
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

In spare verse that echoes the percussive sound of rap music, the story of a boy and a gun. The narrator (of middle-school age or older) admits that at his school, ``You're a fool if you can't get your hand on a gun,'' and tells a familiar story of a bully, the need to feel in command in an out-of-control environment where there is little parental support. Attempting to threaten his tormentor with his father's gun, the narrator is thwarted by his friend, and both are wounded—a ghastly path to absorbing and rejecting the horror of violence. Diaz's digitally manipulated watercolor-and-acrylic paintings resemble, alternately, stained glass and African sculpture in their monumentality and broad planes of color. Both text and images capture the tension and fear of an urban schoolyard menaced by guns; the implied acceptance of the ease of obtaining a firearm is utterly chilling. While a picture book in format, this could be used very effectively with older children. (Picture book. 6-12) Read full book review >
THE INNER CITY MOTHER GOOSE by Eve Merriam
POETRY
Released: May 1, 1996

The Inner City Mother Goose ($16.00; May 1, 1996; 70 pp.; 0-689- 80677-9): First published in 1969, Merriam's collection of urban rhymes has not only held its power, but some of the pieces are even more resonant. The addition of Diaz's illustrations and an introduction by Nikki Giovanni make the work utterly current, with vivid images such as those captured here: ``Fee, fi, fo, fum,/I smell the blood of violence to come;/I smell the smoke that hangs in the air;/Of buildings burning everywhere'' and ``There is a lady/who lives on the street/With bags for her body/And bags for her feet.'' (Poetry. 8+) Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: April 1, 1996

Only after reading this book does the subtitle—``How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman''—appear rife with understatement. In spite of a low birth weight and childhood bouts with scarlet fever and polio (the doctor said Wilma would never walk again) and after years of painful, relentless exercise, she not only walked, she ran: to college on scholarship, and to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the same games. Krull (Lives of the Artists, 1995, etc.) tells the inspiring tale in rolling, oratorical prose; Diaz, coming off his Caldecott-winning work for Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (1994) again lays stylized painted scenes over textured background photos—here, sepia-toned close-ups of fences, ivy, and bare footprints in loose dirt. Though a mannered, blotchy typeface (also Diaz's creation) gives the pages an overly designed look, the book as a whole is a dramatic commemoration of quite a heroic life. Rudolph died in 1994; her post-Olympic accomplishments are described in an afterword. (Picture book/biography. 6-9) Read full book review >
SMOKY NIGHT by Eve Bunting
Released: March 1, 1994

A noted author (Fly Away Home, 1991) brings all her empathy and creative skill to another timely topic: an inner-city riot. Standing well back from their window, Daniel and his mama watch looters steal TVs and break into Kim's market. When it quiets down the two fall asleep, only to be roused: their building is burning, so they escape, through ravaged streets, to a shelter. Though Bunting offers no reasons for the violence, she succinctly describes the mob's psychology. Mama explains, "...people get angry. They want to smash and destroy. They don't care anymore what's right...After a while it's like a game," while Daniel observes, "They look angry. But they look happy, too." The story is rounded out with a touch of reconciliation: Mama has't patronized Kim's market ("...it's better if we buy from our own people") but, after Daniel's cat and Mrs. Kims' make friends at the shelter, the people realize that they, too, could be friendly. Diaz's art — rough-edged acrylic paintings mounted on collages of paper, burnt matches, and materials that might be found blowing on a California street — is extraordinarily powerful. Defined in heavy black, the expressionistically rendered faces are intense with smoky shades and dark, neon-lit color. An outstandingly handsome book that represents its subject realistically while underplaying the worst of its horrors; an excellent vehicle for discussion. (Picture book. 4+)Read full book review >
NEIGHBORHOOD ODES by Gary Soto
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1992

The memories and experiences of Hispanic children are celebrated in a collection of short-lined poems from the author of Baseball in April (1990). With the one exception of the deliciously shivery ``Ode to La Llorona'' (a weeping ghost), the mood ranges from tired happiness to downright exuberance. A girl boasts that she doesn't have to pay for raspados (snow-cones) because her father drives the ice-cream truck; Pablo goes to bed without a bath because ``he wants to be/Like his shoes,/A little dirty''; a child eats a spoonful of ground chile pepper from the molcajete (mortar), to his huge regret; others fondly recall picnics, a wedding, the library, running through the sprinkler, and similar pleasures of a California neighborhood. Diaz's occasional illustrations, with the sharp-edged black areas of woodcuts or paper silhouettes, are angular and stylized to near abstraction. Soto's language leans slightly toward the formal (as befits an ode) and is sprinkled with Spanish words, clear in context but also translated in a glossary. (Poetry. 10-12) Read full book review >