14 COWS FOR AMERICA

Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah is about to return home, to a small village in Kenya. He has been studying to become a doctor in the United States. Amid a joyous homecoming, the children in the village ask if he has brought any stories. He has only one; one that has “burned a hole in his heart.” Naiyomah was in New York City on September 11. In gentle yet piercing present-tense prose, storyteller Deedy introduces readers to a young Maasai scholar who wants nothing more than to help a nation heal. In Maasai tradition, cows are sacred, and Naiyomah asks the elders to bless his cow so he can offer it to grieving Americans. In an incredible show of compassion and strength, other villagers join him. Fourteen cows in all, from one tiny Kenyan village, prove that hope and friendship can cross all boundaries. Gonzalez’s saturated paintings, glowing with oranges, reds and browns, radiate a warmth that is matched only by the Maasai’s generosity. A stirring, heartwarming tale that made headlines when it happened—and is now, thankfully, preserved on the page for children. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56145-490-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Essential reading about essential workers that is informative, reassuring, and positive.

KEEPING THE CITY GOING

An award-winning New York City author/illustrator thanks all the risk-taking essential workers.

In the first days, weeks, and months of the Covid-19 pandemic, life on city streets changed from busy congestion to an eerie quiet. Two children, looking concerned, gaze out from their apartment-house window at a strangely empty scene. Almost the only souls about are delivering food on bikes, hauling flats in supermarkets, or driving buses, trains, and taxis. Sanitation workers, letter carriers, and utility workers continue their work on and under the streets. Firefighters, police officers, and hospital workers are busy. Diverse apartment-house dwellers play their appreciative part, though. Every evening at 7:00 they erupt into a cacophony: noisily cheering, banging pots, and blowing musical instruments. “We are here together.” The narration is in the voice of a very observant child who has not lost their sense of humor, voicing some doubts about a nonessential online purchase. A community spirit shines in the use of we. Floca’s signature illustrations offer meticulously detailed renditions of city buildings and a wide assortment of urban vehicles. Everyone is properly masked. The evening cheers have stopped, but the gratitude has not. The story was first developed as a YouTube video, and here the sound effects are missing, but they can be easily and enthusiastically added by young readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64.9% of actual size.)

Essential reading about essential workers that is informative, reassuring, and positive. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9377-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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