DOWN THE WINDING ROAD

A poignant story about enduring bonds adds a special touch to a common family experience. Every summer, the young narrator of the story, her brother, and their parents drive far out of the city into the country to visit the “Old Ones,” the aunts and uncles who raised the children’s father. When all seven greet the newly arrived visitors, the love and affection between the generations almost jumps off the page. As one of the uncles shows the two children old framed photos on a wall in the house and as the family eats together, the sense of continuity among all the members of the family and the fondness each one feels for each other, for the house, and for the countryside is almost palpable. While the children play in the trees and lake where the Old Ones and the children’s father once played, the Old Ones retell the familiar stories about their own childhoods. Of course, the inevitable comes—summer vacation ends and the visitors go back to the city. The illustrations, painted in oils, ably complement the text. The double-page spreads of grassy meadows and fields, which bleed off the page, work especially well, better perhaps than the pages with white backgrounds, which feel somehow too empty. A fine book about a strong African-American family and a moving story about the relationship between children and the older members of a family that doesn’t involve death, Alzheimer’s Disease, or dwell too heavily on other problems of aging. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7894-2596-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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