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A poignant tale of light in the darkness—and compassion in times of war.

During the Korean War, a family adjusts as they take in refugees in their Busan home.

As Umma and Appa usher the families inside their small coastal home, Kyung Tak is asked to welcome them. Among the strangers, Kyung finds a friend, Sunhee, who cries as she tells Kyung how men from the north took her father’s fishing boat. Kyung gives the older girl a fish-shaped stone for comfort. As more people arrive, the constant noise, increasing chores, and lack of space start to take a toll. A siren sounds one day, and everyone rushes to the underground shelter to wait in the darkness. Even after they emerge, Kyung feels the darkness linger and cries, longing to return to life before the war, before they took in so many strangers. The family comforts Kyung, and the guests reveal that they nicknamed the Taks’ home “the house before falling into the sea” because if it weren’t for the family’s kindness, they might have been chased by soldiers off the cliffs. Drawing from her own family’s experiences, Wang has crafted a lyrical gem of a story. Adopting a child’s perspective, the author manages to make topics such as warfare and loss of one’s home comprehensible to a young audience, while Cha’s bold strokes and splashes of color convey movement and enhance the emotional weight of the subject.

A poignant tale of light in the darkness—and compassion in times of war. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, questions to consider, glossary, guide to Korean names) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2024

ISBN: 9780593530153

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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