SEVEN SPOOLS OF THREAD

A KWANZAA STORY

Any family with seven sons must hear plenty of bickering, but the seven Ashanti brothers in this family quarrel from dawn to dusk and into the night. Their father leaves them a legacy in more than material terms, with the requirement that they must spin seven spools of thread (each in a different shade) into gold in only one day—with no arguing. Medearis has crafted an original story with the timeless tone of a traditional folktale, subtly incorporating the seven principles of Kwanzaa into her plot. The brothers learn to cooperate in both words and deeds, weaving their seven colors of silken thread into multicolored cloth so beautiful it is purchased for the king (with a bag of gold, of course). Demonstrating the Kwanzaa principle of cooperative economics, the brothers teach their whole village to weave the patterned fabric known as kente cloth. Minter’s striking linoleum block-print illustrations complement the story perfectly, with the seven decidedly different brothers shown in silhouette against jewel-bright backgrounds full of intriguing details of African village life. The history and seven principles of Kwanzaa are clearly explained in the introduction; directions for making a simple loom from straws and weaving a cloth belt are included in an appendix. This added information as well as the satisfying story will make this beautifully designed book a valuable selection for elementary-school teachers and librarians. A fine choice for a Kwanzaa gift, and a first choice for most school and public-library collections. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8075-7315-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message.

LOVE, SANTA

A girl named Lucy writes letters to Santa each Christmas as she comes to understand who Santa really is.

The story opens when Lucy is 5, as she prints her letter to Santa, tongue sticking out with the effort. The letter is shown in the accompanying illustration, and a facsimile letter is included in a fancy, gold envelope glued into the book. Lucy’s letters from the next two Christmases are included in similar, attached envelopes, along with two letters in red envelopes that Santa leaves in response. When Lucy is 8, she writes a note to her mom asking if she is Santa, on Christmas morning receiving a letter in one of Santa’s red envelopes but written by Lucy’s mom. This letter is long and sentimental, explaining that “parents” give the actual presents, but the spirit of Santa is real. Charming watercolor illustrations show Lucy’s development. One picture of Santa looking on in dismay as Lucy writes a doubtful letter (“Why does your handwriting look like my mom’s?”) introduces ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t. (Lucy is also shown riding her bike without a helmet.) Lucy, her parents, and Santa are white; background figures are racially diverse. The admission of parental involvement in Santa’s gift deliveries may make it unsuitable in households with little ones who still believe in Santa’s magic.

An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70030-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Absurd and wacky but also fast-paced and good-humored. Ho, ho, HO! (Fantasy. 7-10)

HAPPY HOWLIDAYS

A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY

From the Dog Diaries series , Vol. 2

Following series opener Dog Diaries (2018), Junior, a dog of huge enthusiasm but not much sense, is back for a second romp with his ever so tolerant owner, “Ruff.”

It’s time for the howlidays, including Fangsgiving and, of course, Critter-Mess-Day, the one that features the mysterious Saint Lick! Junior’s take on these events¾all of them new to him since he’s recently been adopted from the pet shelter—is pretty funny. The story consists nearly entirely of his lively encounters with novel holiday-related stuff and his doggy interpretation of what he discovers, quite likely to appeal to children’s funny bones. All of this silliness is presented in first-dog narration in diary format, in large, clear print on pages that overflow with rollicking illustrations that are perfectly matched to the text. There is little in the way of plot or character development, just a series of silly episodes climaxing in Junior’s extremely thorough booby-trapping of the entire house to fend off Saint Lick since he’s heard the jolly fellow leaves “presents” all over the world—and everyone knows what those are: poop! Although his efforts leave the house flooded, toilet paper strewn everywhere and an angry family, Junior is proud of his accomplishment: no “presents.” Ruff (actually Rafe) is Armenian. The tale concludes with a helpful glossary of Doglish terms and several pages of games and drawing instruction.

Absurd and wacky but also fast-paced and good-humored. Ho, ho, HO! (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-45618-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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