Muddled children’s fantasy that misses the mark.


Ramey and Abraham’s debut blends Russian folklore with a contemporary children’s story.

In an overly sweet opening, a perfect baby girl is born: “It was as if the baby (sic) new skin was impregnated with sunshine and it radiated outward.” The baby, Maya, is soon afterward diagnosed with scoliosis. Time passes rapidly, and the night before Maya’s sixth birthday, her mother gives her a magical green orb that brightens when Maya holds it. Later that night, her mother mysteriously leaves without explanation. The story progresses quickly through the years, as Maya’s father pursues his Ph.D. in microbiology and Maya takes up snowboarding. She also has a recurring dream of “lightening bugs” with faces that suddenly turn ugly, and she glimpses unusual animals in the snow. Maya meets Dima, a boy from Russia who shares with her some of the folk tales and customs of his country. Eventually, she learns that her visions are of characters from these tales, the Spirits of Winter, who seem evil at first but then help her when she competes in a national snowboarding competition. Blending Russian folk literature with a contemporary setting makes for an intriguing premise, yet the story is underdeveloped and poorly paced. The rushed chapters don’t provide enough space for readers to connect with the characters or understand the confusing mythological aspects of the plot. Before she leaves, Maya’s mother tells her, “Once I became pregnant with you, the human and the beginning of time became one,” a vague but important-sounding statement that is never adequately explained. Maya’s scoliosis, which seems a crucial trait at the beginning, is barely mentioned; it doesn’t affect her snowboarding or provide much of an obstacle for her to overcome. The writing is unpolished, marred by frequent punctuation errors, incorrect word choices (“bazaar sight”), and inconsistent changes in verb tense: “He closed his eyes like he’s seeing her at that moment.” Although Maya does eventually learn the reason for her mother’s departure, the promised reunion is put off until a sequel, resulting in an abrupt ending to a short book.

Muddled children’s fantasy that misses the mark.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4942-8658-3

Page Count: 72

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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