THE BLESSING SEED

A CREATION MYTH FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

In this thought-provoking and handsomely executed fable, God puts a positive spin on humankind’s partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. “In the beginning, God sang everything alive,” and in a paradise in which the gifts of the natural world are crucial, a coffee-colored Woman yearns to know of her and Man’s special gifts. The results of eating from the tree of life are dramatic, manifest in such details as the animals hiding from the couple. Although they are frightened by the consequences of their act, God smiles: “I made human beings for their longing to know—it is time for you to explore the four paths.” Rather than the punishment of the Fall, these two find in their error an ultimately enriching experience, as they thank God and spread His blessing throughout the earth. The vibrant watercolors, resembling batik prints, are composed with ingenuity to reveal an abundant, evolving planet. The plants, animals and people are stylized to beautiful effect; Man and Woman are naked, but not graphically so. In an author’s note, Matthews offers a lengthy, meaty rationale for her determination to offer a story of “original blessing” rather than original sin, and cites her sources; readers, therefore, set sail with a steady hand on the tiller. This rewarding book has a place on many shelves, and not only in religious markets. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 1998

ISBN: 1-901223-28-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life.

¡VAMOS! LET'S GO TO THE MARKET

From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, journey through a Mexican mercado delivering diverse goods to a variety of booths.

With the aid of red words splattered throughout the spreads as labels, Raúl the Third gives an introduction to Spanish vocabulary as Little Lobo, an anthropomorphic wolf, leaves his house, fills his cart with objects from his warehouse, and delivers them to the market’s vendors. The journey also serves as a crash course in Mexican culture, as the images are packed with intertextual details such as food, traditional games, and characters, including Cantinflas, Frida Khalo, and Juan Gabriel. Readers acquainted with Raúl the Third’s characters from his Lowriders series with author Cathy Camper will appreciate cameos from familiar characters. As he makes his rounds, Little Lobo also collects different artifacts that people offer in exchange for his deliveries of shoe polish, clothespins, wood, tissue paper, paintbrushes, and a pair of golden laces. Although Raúl the Third departs from the ball-pen illustrations that he is known for, his depiction of creatures and critters peppering the borderland where his stories are set remains in his trademark style. The softer hues in the illustrations (chosen by colorist Bay) keep the busy compositions friendly, and the halftone patterns filling the illustrations create foregrounds and backgrounds reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s pointillism.

A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-55726-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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