Heartwarming creative genius abounds here, offering visual and aural pleasures aplenty: not to be missed.

A POND FULL OF INK

A dozen poems from the inimitable Dutch writer magnificently translated and illustrated.

Although she was the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Prize in 1988, Schmidt’s work, while widely translated elsewhere, is largely little known to English speakers. But through the award-winning talents of Australian translator Colmer and Dutch illustrator Posthuma, this volume—first published in the Netherlands in 2011, 16 years after Schmidt’s death, and for which Posthuma nabbed his second Gouden Penseel prize for best illustrated children’s book—should change all that. Schmidt’s zany characters burst to life in Colmer’s florid translation. Between the ravishingly well-crafted verse, with its tight meter and lithe rhyme, and Posthuma’s stark, richly layered mixed-media illustrations, readers can spend hours savoring each page. Schmidt’s sympathies for the daring and slightly misbehaved shine through in these wry, whimsical sketches. The fairy-tale writer draws from his pond of ink; furniture with legs steps out of the house for a walk; the intolerant Isabella Caramella feeds her hungry pet crocodile, Crabbit; and so on. Seasoned bath avoiders and their kin will thrill at “Belinda Hated Getting Clean…”: From her ink-splotched aura, Medusa-like hair and creepy talons to full-blown leafiness, Posthuma delectably marks Belinda’s transformation from fauna to flora.

Heartwarming creative genius abounds here, offering visual and aural pleasures aplenty: not to be missed. (Picture book/poetry. 6-14)

Pub Date: March 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5433-9

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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A disjointed yet sincere story about family, Judaism, and finding oneself.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

Hannah is desperate to be Jewish.

Grandma Mimi, her mother’s mother, is Jewish, so according to Jewish law she must be too, right? Even if her White father, who was raised Catholic, and her nonreligious mother don’t seem to think so. When Hannah attends her best friend Shira’s bat mitzvah, she finally finds the place where she feels she belongs, and she decides to have her very own bat mitzvah. Unfortunately, her parents—especially her mother—vehemently disagree. So, Hannah schemes with Grandma Mimi and Aunt Yael, a rabbi and her mother’s estranged sister, to prepare for her own bat mitzvah. Hannah secretly learns Hebrew and studies her Torah portion in six months, and her rapid mastery of the language feels unrealistic. Her experience is an authentic portrayal of struggling to find oneself through religion even when parents may not be supportive. However, Hannah’s parents’ constant negativity about Judaism—her father frequently “jokes” in ways that read like microaggressions, and the context for her mother’s hostile comments is not revealed until the end—will be deeply uncomfortable for some readers, though the novel does end with a positive message of love and acceptance. The mix of prose, poetry, and recipes is original, but the execution leads to a disjointed and choppy read. Readers questioning their sense of belonging could find this to be exactly what they need.

A disjointed yet sincere story about family, Judaism, and finding oneself. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38691-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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