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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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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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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