MEE-AN AND THE MAGIC SERPENT

Tales of humans marrying animals are known in many countries, and this example from the West African country of Mali will delight readers and listeners with its touches of humor. Mee-An will only consent to wed an extremely handsome man, and the one who meets her stringent requirements turns out to be a serpent in disguise. Her younger sister, with magical powers of her own, saves her from the serpent’s evil plot to eat them both. The writer and artist of this folktale is well known for his down-to-earth renditions of traditional tales from his homeland. He dedicates the book to his grandmother, from whom he “heard his first stories,” but does not provide any further background on this particular story, as he has done in his other books. The small square format echoes the shape of the ceramic tiles painted in Diakité’s unique style, but the rich details of the clothing, the houses, the villagers’ activities, the flora and the fauna will be lost in a group presentation. Combining elements of a pourquoi story and a cautionary tale, this is an enjoyable work, but not the author-illustrator’s best. (Folklore. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-88899-719-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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THOSE SHOES

The hottest fad can also be the most expensive and out of reach for children in limited financial circumstances. Jeremy, living with his Grandma, dreams of wearing the latest cool black high-tops with two white stripes. But as Grandma points out, “There’s no room for ‘want’ around here—just ‘need’ ” and what Jeremy needs and gets is a new pair of winter boots. Jeremy’s quest for new sneakers takes on more urgency when his old pair fall apart, and the only choice is the Velcro baby-blue set meant for little kids found in the school’s donation box by the guidance counselor. Even Grandma understands and together they search several thrift shops and actually find the coveted black high-tops, but they’re too small. Buying them anyway, Jeremy makes a heartfelt decision to put them to a more practical and generous use. Boelts blends themes of teasing, embarrassment and disappointment with kindness and generosity in a realistic interracial school scenario bringing affecting closure to a little boy’s effort to cope in a world filled with materialistic attractions and distractions. Muted browns/greens/blues done in watercolors, pencils and ink, and digitally arranged, add to the story’s expressive affirmation of what is really important. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2499-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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