The arc of a young girl’s typical school day gives structure to this presentation of a rich mixture of traditional songs, games, riddles, a few simple recipes, and stories from Puerto Rico. Bernier-Grand (In the Shade of the Nispero Tree, 1999, etc.) presents most selections in Spanish and English and provides tidbits of background information, sometimes describing the origin of the song or tale or noting a fact about an animal or a place mentioned in a song or a riddle. The music for the songs is printed at the end of the text. Perky children portraying the racial diversity of Puerto Rico appear in their school uniforms and their play clothes and go through the actions of their day—from early morning, rising to the strains of a “Waking Up Song” with alternate verses sung by parents and children, to bedtime, when “The Song of El Coquí,” with its onomatopoetic refrain that imitates the sound of the ubiquitous island tree frog. Riddles are an important aspect of folklore in most Spanish-speaking cultures and math and animal riddles are included here, as are several stories (in English only), including a tale about the hummingbird that recalls the conflict between Caribs and Tainos in Pre-Columbian times and a Juan Bobo tale. The 27 lizards hiding in Delacre’s (Salsa Stories, 2000, etc.) clear, vibrant watercolors depicting a rural town, will demand attention from readers as they pore over the other details of a contemporary society enlivened by tradition. Although there’s not much documentation here, the presentation of this folkloric material is engaging. (Nonfiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1910-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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