THE SKY OF AFGHANISTAN

A young girl dreams of the day peace will come to contemporary Afghanistan, the war-torn country she loves.

Letting her imagination soar, a little girl looks to the sky and visualizes flying the “bright kite of peace” across Afghanistan into “people’s houses, their homes, their families, their hearts.” She sees her dream in children’s smiles and eyes, “a wonderful dream in which we all hold hands” and the “sound of war has truly gone forever.” She envisions a future filled with hope, opportunity and harmony. Speaking idealistically in the present tense, the little girl’s voice rings with compelling optimism, and her verbal images of the sky, kites, soaring and flying are visually reinforced in elegant, wistful illustrations that compositionally sweep the eye diagonally upward across the page from left to right. Somber, gray pencil drawings and tan backgrounds reflect the current bleak Afghan reality, while blue headscarves and red kites provide hopeful accents. Powerful images of dancing kites, ascending doves, women in burqas, a child playing with toys made from trash and flowers sprouting from tanks juxtapose the real and the aspirational. While topically relevant, the absence of historical, political or cultural context for the current Afghan crisis may leave young readers somewhat clueless. Ardent advocacy for Afghan peace. (Picture book. 5-7)

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-84-15503-04-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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An upbeat introduction to the scrappy origins of a little-known bit of American musical history.

STALEBREAD CHARLIE AND THE RAZZY DAZZY SPASM BAND

Drawing from the little that’s known about Emile “Stalebread Charlie” Lacoume, Mahin presents a fictionalized story about the homeless New Orleanian boys who innovated “spasm band” music, considered one of jazz’s precursors.

In 1895, Stalebread and pal Warm Gravy, both white, live in Storyville, which “smelled like trash and looked like trouble.” The boys steal to eat, constantly dodging the coppers. Hearing a trio playing one night, Stalebread hatches an idea. “Gravy! We’ll start a band. We’ll never be hungry again!” With an old stovepipe to sing through and a pebble-filled can to shake, the boys debut their rhythms—to the neighborhood’s general disdain. “No one liked their music. Not even the alley cats.” A boy called Cajun (the band’s sole kid of color) joins up with his “comb-made kazoo.” Pennywhistler Monk is next, followed by kids on washboard, spoons, and cigar-box fiddle. Though more often chased off than cheered, the boys’ luck finally turns when they bravely improvise for patrons at Mac’s Restaurant and Saloon. Mahin’s jaunty narrative uses occasional rhyme, and onomatopoeic words scroll through in arcing display type. Illustrator Tate’s note mentions finding supporting research for his intentional visual diversity: Among the diverse denizens of Storyville, he depicts a black cop. The text ends abruptly, but Mahin’s note adds lively details.

An upbeat introduction to the scrappy origins of a little-known bit of American musical history. (craft activity) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-547-94201-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A placid story that provides some sense of differences in generations, economics, and geography.

BEVAN

A WELL-LOVED BEAR

Bevan, a stuffed toy bear, has belonged to many different children over the years.

Starting in a wealthy home around the turn of the 20th century, as one of many toys in a nursery belonging to three children, the bear changes homes many times. The nanny in his original home gives him to her own granddaughter, who lives in a little house before moving to a lighthouse where her father goes to work. When she grows up, she marries a rancher, and the bear goes to her son. As a teen, that boy saves his soda-fountain wages, buys a van with a psychedelic paint job, and explores the U.S. during the 1960s, and the bear dons a hippie outfit. When he falls out of the van, a dog picks him up, and Bevan finds himself living with an artist who marries a musician. Their daughter takes Bevan to summer camp, where he is left behind, ultimately winding up in a thrift store, where a mom buys him for her young daughter, a contemporary little girl who loves him just as much as the other children. Observant viewers will note objects belonging to each era on the windowsill in the latest owner’s room. The first several generations of Bevan’s owners are White, but some characters are people of color, including the newest family. The full-color paintings are softly realistic. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A placid story that provides some sense of differences in generations, economics, and geography. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1110-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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