THE RETURN OF REX AND ETHEL

A touching story about two girls, two dogs, and the way in which the girls deal with the deaths of their beloved pets. Inspired by the death of his own pet, Adoff (Touch the Poem, see below, etc.) tells the story of Pepper and Belle, best friends who live in neighboring houses out in the country. The girls and their dogs, Rex and Ethel, are all close, spending most of their free time together. One day, during a hot, hot summer, Belle and Pepper look for their pets in the backyard and find that both dogs (now quite old) have died peacefully. The families jointly hold a solemn funeral, and the dogs are buried together under a beautiful tree. The next day Pepper and Belle start working on a living tribute, which they dub “The Rex and Ethel Memorial Rest Stop,” a sanctuary for all the animals in the neighborhood. The relationships between the two girls, between the girls and the dogs, and between the dogs themselves are well-drawn and affecting. Although the story has the girls bouncing back awfully quickly (they look positively cheerful the day following the deaths), there is no question that the bond these girls had with their pets was very special. The book is written in Adoff’s “shaped speech” style, a technique of writing that’s halfway between poetry and prose, using a wide variety of spacing between words, and indentations in the margins to further the meaning of the story. The illustrations are uneven—while the faces of the girls are wooden, with glazed-over eyes and unnatural expressions, the landscapes are evocative and interesting. A useful book for when a pet (or a person) dies, especially for those who feel that taking some sort of positive action has a healing effect. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-266367-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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HONEY, I LOVE

Iffy art cramps this 25th-anniversary reissue of the joyful title poem from Greenfield’s first collection (1978), illustrated by the Dillons. As timeless as ever, the poem celebrates everything a child loves, from kissing Mama’s warm, soft arm to listening to a cousin from the South, “ ’cause every word he says / just kind of slides out of his mouth.” “I love a lot of things / a whole lot of things,” the narrator concludes, “And honey, / I love ME, too.” The African-American child in the pictures sports an updated hairstyle and a big, infectious grin—but even younger viewers will notice that the spray of cool water that supposedly “stings my stomach” isn’t aimed there, and that a comforter on the child’s bed changes patterns between pages. More problematic, though, is a dropped doll that suddenly acquires a horrified expression that makes it look disturbingly like a live baby, and the cutesy winged fairy that hovers over the sleeping child in the final scene. The poem deserves better. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009123-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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