Adults looking for tools to introduce the subject of the Holocaust will find a helpful beginning in this emotion-driven...

HAND IN HAND

A fablelike introduction to the Holocaust for the youngest audiences.

Ruthi and Leib frolic happily in a field gathering flowers with their mother. But when “soldiers stomped brutish boots into town,” their mother goes off to find food and never returns. The plot continues apace, with no repetition or structure to guide children’s understanding (save multiple references to “strawberry smiles”); the siblings are separated in an orphanage, and Ruthi goes to a nightmarish place “where numbers replaced names.” She survives the war, emigrates, builds a life for herself as an adult, and, in her old age, reunites with her brother. Reminiscent of the stylings of Art Spiegleman’s Maus, the children—based on compiled stories of Jewish youth, according to an author’s note—are represented as rabbits (albeit with “blonde curls” on Leib and straight, dark locks that flow past Ruthi’s ears), with other animal people present in background scenes. The prose attempts a flowery, poetic style, which is sometimes powerful and sometimes distracting. Tiny details indicate the specific historical events of the Holocaust, but since it’s never directly referred to, children will need help contextualizing the story.

Adults looking for tools to introduce the subject of the Holocaust will find a helpful beginning in this emotion-driven story. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68115-538-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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