Books by Veronika Martenova Charles

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE CRUMBS! by Veronika Martenova Charles
Released: Oct. 12, 2010

Three versions of the Hansel and Gretel tale are strung together in an early-reader format. Three modern kids (the illustrations show a brown-skinned girl, a white boy and an Asian boy) go to the park, dropping popcorn along the way, which reminds them of different versions of the classic tale from Europe, Africa and Japan. Each tells the tale he or she knows from childhood. Typeface changes signal that the narrative has switched from modern time to storytelling. Light black-and-white illustrations grace each page, adding interest to the rather bland text. The hugely artificial construct of three modern children hanging around and telling fairy tales to each other is a weak one, even for an early reader. The stories themselves are an amalgam of many versions, muddying the waters for teachers trying to introduce international versions of folk and fairy tales. That one tale is from Japan and the other two are from continents confuses the matter further. Good intent, poor execution. Other titles in this new series were not seen. (Early reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE BIRDMAN by Veronika Martenova Charles
Released: Sept. 12, 2006

Noor Nobi makes dresses for children on his sewing machine in Calcutta to support his own three children. When they are taken from him in a terrible accident, he is in despair. But he goes to the market and purchases, with the smallest of sums, a tiny, sickly bird, and releases it back to the world. He is so moved by this act that he goes to work at his sewing machine with renewed strength, and every Monday releases the birds he has purchased and nursed back to health. Basing this on a true story, Charles ends her tale with a long afterword about the real birdman and his new family. It's a bit disconcerting that there is no explanation of how Noor lost his children, and the text is rather stilted. However, the illustrations, done in gouache in brilliant jewel-like hues, have elements of magical realism in their pattern and geometry and combine with the theme of the story to lift the reader's spirit. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >