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THE FREEDOM RIDDLE

Medearis (Skin Deep, p. 860, etc.) offers an upbeat retelling of a story that first appeared in William J. Faulkner's The Days When the Animals Talked, about a slave who wins his freedom by offering his master a riddle he can't solve. The riddle is an elaborate one: The text follows Jim for a year as incidents from daily life give him ideas for clues. In the meantime, readers glean a picture of life on a plantation as Medearis peppers her sure- footed narrative with a variety of inventive phrases and images. The large, heavy oil paintings have a subdued palette, featuring mainly Jim and others on the plantation; the different postures in which the characters are depicted contribute to the expressiveness of the narration, as if they were actors in a theatrical piece. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-67469-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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HOW TO CATCH A LOVEOSAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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CELEBRATE KWANZAA

WITH CANDLES, COMMUNITY, AND THE FRUITS OF THE HARVEST

From the Holidays Around the World series

A good-enough introduction to a contested festivity but one that’s not in step with the community it’s for.

An overview of the modern African-American holiday.

This book arrives at a time when black people in the United States have had intraracial—some serious, some snarky—conversations about Kwanzaa’s relevance nowadays, from its patchwork inspiration that flattens the cultural diversity of the African continent to a single festive story to, relatedly, the earnest blacker-than-thou pretentiousness surrounding it. Both the author and consultant Keith A. Mayes take great pains—and in painfully simplistic language—to provide a context that attempts to refute the internal arguments as much as it informs its intended audience. In fact, Mayes says in the endnotes that young people are Kwanzaa’s “largest audience and most important constituents” and further extends an invitation to all races and ages to join the winter celebration. However, his “young people represent the future” counterpoint—and the book itself—really responds to an echo of an argument, as black communities have moved the conversation out to listen to African communities who critique the holiday’s loose “African-ness” and deep American-ness and moved on to commemorate holidays that have a more historical base in black people’s experiences in the United States, such as Juneteenth. In this context, the explications of Kwanzaa’s principles and symbols and the smattering of accompanying activities feel out of touch.

A good-enough introduction to a contested festivity but one that’s not in step with the community it’s for. (resources, bibliography, glossary, afterword) (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2849-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2017

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