Heartwarming and illuminating.

KISIMI TAIMAIPPAKTUT ANGIRRARIJARANI / ONLY IN MY HOMETOWN

Life in a snowy northern town, from a child’s perspective and written both in Inuktitut and English

One-story houses in multiple colors sit close together beneath a cloudy blue sky, their roofs covered with snow. A little girl sits on a large metallic tube looking straight ahead. “Sitting on an elephant, always remembering what my mom said.” The next picture pulls back for a wider view; the girl is on an oil drum or water tank. Below her are some nondescript buildings and two children riding bicycles on a quiet rural road. The book’s text is a reflective poem. Stanzas end with the repeated line, “Only in my hometown.” Inside the house, so many children are playing that care needs to be taken to avoid stepping on their toys. Nearby four women share a feast of raw meat, in which the little girl is delighted to partake. Outside, blizzards can last for weeks, covering everything with snow. And then the darkness comes, enveloping the region. The northern lights dance. Everyone can be called family “in my hometown.” The sister collaborators work in harmony. Angnakuluk Friesen’s poetic text is fluid and evocative, and Ippiksaut Friesen’s illustrations, painted with watercolor and acrylic “on elephant poo paper,” then composited digitally, are lovely works of folk art. Inuktitut is rendered both in its own symbology and Romanized.

Heartwarming and illuminating. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-883-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Precious—but timely and comforting all the same.

WHILE WE CAN'T HUG

From the Hedgehog and Tortoise Story series

The two creatures who fulfilled each other’s yearning for physical contact in The Hug (2019) find alternative ways to connect in a time of social distancing.

Blushing and smiling and looking every bit as sweet as they did in their original meet-cute, Hedgehog and Tortoise respond to Owl’s reassurance that “there are lots of ways to show someone you love them” by standing on opposing pages and sending signals, letters, dances, air kisses, and songs across the gutter. Demonstrating their mutual love and friendship, they regard each other fondly across the gap through sun and storm, finally gesturing air hugs beneath a rainbow of colors and stars. “They could not touch. / They could not hug. // But they both knew / that they were loved.” In line with the minimalist narrative and illustrations there is no mention of the enforced separation’s cause nor, aside from the titular conjunction, any hint of its possible duration. Still, its core affirmation is delivered in a simple, direct, unmistakable way, and if the thematic connection with the previous outing seems made to order for a marketing opportunity, it does address a widespread emotional need in young (and maybe not so young) audiences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78% of actual size.)

Precious—but timely and comforting all the same. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5713-6558-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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