THE VILLAGE THAT VANISHED

In this powerful tale presented in the style of African storytelling, a girl, mother, and grandmother draw upon their individual strengths to help save their Yao village from slave traders. Grifalconi’s (Patrol, p. 663, etc.) use of dialogue and narrative shows how young and old inspire others to overcome their fear by devising a clever idea that will save their people. Nelson’s (Brothers of the Night, 2001, etc.) technique of combining photocopied pencil drawings with oil paints brings to life the lushness of the forest and gives a rich texture to the characters’ faces. On the cover and in a double-page spread the clouds form a silhouette of the slave traders and foreshadow their coming. Warm hues and detail of line effectively capture the excitement of young Abikanile as she dances across a stone path in the river, the pride of Njemile as she convinces her people to trust in her plan, and the stubbornness of old Chimwala as she refuses to leave the place of her ancestors. Pictures of children eagerly listening to a storyteller spin her tale open and close the story. An author’s note explains how a griot uses stories to teach young people their history as well as how to behave. A pronunciation key for the Yao names of the characters is provided to ensure that all who read or listen to this tale will learn “ . . . one must answer not only with faith, but with courage . . . ” (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8037-2623-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS

Fact and fiction dovetail neatly in this tale of a wonderfully resolute child who finds a memorable way to convince her father that the newly-finished Brooklyn Bridge is safe to cross. Having watched the great bridge going up for most of her young life, Hannah is eager to walk it, but despite repeated, fact-laced appeals to reason (and Hannah is a positive fount of information about its materials and design), her father won’t be moved: “No little girl of mine will cross that metal monster!” Hannah finally hatches a far-fetched plan to convince him once and for all; can she persuade the renowned P.T. Barnum to march his corps of elephants across? She can, and does (actually, he was already planning to do it). Pham places Hannah, radiating sturdy confidence, within sepia-toned, exactly rendered period scenes that capture both the grandeur of the bridge in its various stages of construction, and the range of expressions on the faces of onlookers during its opening ceremonies and after. Readers will applaud Hannah’s polite persistence. (afterword, resources) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-87011-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective.

THE LITTLEST VOYAGEUR

Stowing away with French Canadian fur traders in 1792, a loquacious red squirrel embarks on a life-changing adventure.

Each spring, Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge, a squirrel with wanderlust, watches brave, strong voyageurs depart in canoes from Montreal and return the following autumn. Determined to be a voyageur, Le Rouge hides in a canoe paddled by eight stout voyageurs, part of a brigade of five. Soon his incessant chattering distracts the voyageurs, who become separated from the rest of the brigade, but, after ascending the highest tree, he points the crew back on course. More than once, pesky Le Rouge barely escapes becoming squirrel ragout. He’s just beginning to feel like a real voyageur when they reach the trading post on Lake Superior, where he discovers the voyageurs exchanging their cargo for animal skins to return to Montreal. Heartsick, Le Rouge decides he cannot be a voyageur if it involves trading animal skins, unless he can change things. Le Rouge relates his story with drama and flair, presenting a colorful prism through which to view the daily life of a voyageur. Peppered with historical facts and (italicized) French phrases and names, this exciting, well-documented tale (with a contemporary animal-rights subtext) proves educational and entertaining. Realistic pencil drawings highlight Le Rouge’s memorable journey.

A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective. (map, pronunciation guide, historical and biological notes, recipe, further reading) (Historical fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4247-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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