While some young listeners might prefer more action, those who share the unnamed narrator’s quirky viewpoint will be pleased...

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IF I WAS A BANANA

A child imagines life as any of a variety of animals, natural phenomena, or inanimate objects.

A New Zealand import, this low-key, whimsical exploration of imagination repays repeat readings. As the first-person narration begins, an adult and child stand in front of a store window full of bananas. In subsequent pictures the brown-haired, white child appears alone. Sometimes the child is shown indoors, poring over a picture of a mountain, clicking off a bedside lamp, looking at the bottle of milk on the breakfast table. Other times the child appears outdoors, watching a storm, holding a ladybug, or approaching a majestic old tree. Everything the child sees sparks a possibility: what it would be like to be a spoon (“I think I might quite like it”) or a fish in a fish bowl (decidedly less appealing). Drawn in a mostly realistic style with occasional touches of anthropomorphic exaggeration, the illustrations appear to have been created in pencil and oil pastel. Multiple sizes, from vignettes to double-page spreads, and unusual perspectives provide interest and rhythm. Rich textures and muted colors add to the dreamy quality of the text, which has a thoughtful, reflective tone throughout.

While some young listeners might prefer more action, those who share the unnamed narrator’s quirky viewpoint will be pleased to discover that they aren’t the only ones who wonder. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-776570-33-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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