Pure joie de vivre but a bit less joie de vérité.

MADAME EIFFEL

THE LOVE STORY BEHIND THE EIFFEL TOWER

Will the young engineer Eiffel save his pretty wife from slipping into oblivion?

“Eiffel is a happy engineer / young, successful, and in love. / The prettiest girl in Paris is his wife. / Her name is Cathy, and she has a thirst for life.” Early in the simple tale, Cathy becomes mysteriously ill, and Eiffel works feverishly to create her desire: “Cathy tries to laugh and tells Eiffel with a wink / ‘You could build us a railway / that takes us up to the clouds in a blink.’ ” The internal rhymes and graceful, syncopated rhythm are the proper match for exuberant, quirky line drawings, accented sparingly with the color pink. The people in the book—including the beloved couple—are depicted with large, oval heads atop tiny, slender bodies that sport carefully detailed clothing. The aerial views of Paris include hundreds of tiny rooftops and windows, with comical birds in the sky and complementary fish in the Seine. Appropriate for an engineer’s story, art and layout make wonderful use of grids as well as numerous, varying angles and viewpoints, including a double-page spread of the eponymous tower, which requires a 90-degree rotation to view properly. The artwork and text combine to create a delightful fairy tale that, alas, has little basis in reality: Eiffel’s 15-year marriage ended when his Marguerite died of pneumonia, 10 years before completion of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a pity there is no note that helps readers clarify this conflict.

Pure joie de vivre but a bit less joie de vérité. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-3-89955-755-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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