A light-hearted tale with an important message for young readers: courage comes in many forms, and often means putting our...


A stranded kitten leads to a lesson in courage and empathy for a young girl in Mehdi’s simple children’s tale.

Hana hears a mysterious meowing while walking home from the grocery store with her mother. Upon investigating, they discover a lone kitten stuck high in a tree. As she gazes at the white and black kitten with purple stripes, Hana wonders what it would feel like if she were stranded without her mother. A quick phone call to the fire department sends rescuers scrambling up a ladder in an attempt to recover the kitten. But the skittish kitten keeps crawling higher. Eager to assist, Hana asks if she can try to coax the kitten down. This earns her an adamant “Absolutely not!” from the fire brigade. But Hana won’t be deterred and soon finds herself harnessed to one of the firemen, ascending the ladder. Eventually, Hana saves the day through her bravery and determination. Mehdi’s slender tale emphasizes many admirable qualities, such as Hana’s ability to empathize and her instinct to get help. However, the ending shifts the focus to Hana’s bravery in climbing the ladder, an act few parents would want to glamorize. Izhar’s illustrations of Hana in her helmet and harness happily climbing the ladder seem to further make light of the danger, despite the text’s insistence that she is frightened. Overall, Izhar’s illustrations work well alongside Mehdi’s text and convey amusing details, such as the strikingly similar facial expressions of mother and daughter as they search for the kitten. Although the concept of this book is far from original, there is a small twist at the very end that adds depth and layer to the story; Hana learns that life can be unfair, even for heroes. 

A light-hearted tale with an important message for young readers: courage comes in many forms, and often means putting our own fears aside to help another.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615553610

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Azra Z. Mehdi

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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