by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 9
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One picture book tells two stories and two aspects of the immigrant experience from the perspective of a child. The first story, “Painted Words,” follows Marianthe, new to the US, and her mother on the dreaded first day of school. Her mother tries to reassure the girl, but the classroom experience is all but overwhelming. Knowing no English, Marianthe draws pictures about herself during the art period, communicating in the only way she can. A patient teacher, some not-always-nice classmates, and success in English (“Slowly, like clouds lifting, things became clearer. Sticks and chicken feet became letters. Sputters and coughs became words. And the words had meanings”) give Marianthe the courage to take part in Life-Story Time, in the “Spoken Memories” section of the book. She tells the class of the baby brother who died before she was born, the village where she lived, the closeness of friends and neighbors, who rejoiced with the family when twin sons were born. Softly colored pencil and crayon drawings show the loving, supportive family, and the anxious and finally triumphant Marianthe, who finds a place in a new country. The storytelling is vivid and exquisitely emotional, making Aliki’s story painfully personal, yet resonant, in very few pages. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15661-4
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998


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