A sweetly, quietly appealing piece of whimsy.

DARLING ZHUZHA

This original fairy tale looks as timeworn as a fairy tale should, with a story just runic enough to keep the wheels turning in little minds.

“It was a greyish-blue day. Rainy and windy, it tasted like a dandelion blowball, felt like a wax cloth, smelt like a bonfire and was as long and slimy, as an earthworm.” Just the kind of day you might expect to find a hole in the pocket of your coat. A Man in a village finds himself in such a predicament. And worse: “[The] hole in his jacket turned out to be the size of his childhood. The Man has lost it a long, very long time ago.” Now, repairing the hole might cut the Man off completely from his childhood, so the fairy Zhuzha tells him to hold on, she’ll go look. She runs into a princess, who is literally fishing for compliments, and some squawking birds. Zhuzha has a brainstorm, even if it does mean she will be spending much time in the dark: She is “of the same size as the hole in [the] pocket.” The brief story (just six pages) is laid out on sepia-toned backgrounds with fine-lined, gently animated cartoon drawings to accompany the text. The village looks like a 19th-century shtetl preserved in amber, though it has (really charming) moving parts.

A sweetly, quietly appealing piece of whimsy. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Timecode

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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