A valuable tale that promotes multicultural education.

IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY SHYANN

An Egyptian cat has pink fur, a colorful party hat and friends from around the world.

In this second book from author/illustrator Hill, Shyann celebrates her birthday. Her friends join Shyann and in the process teach readers simple birthday greetings in their native languages, along with birthday customs from their homelands. Daisy from Hawaii brings a calabash and a grass skirt and teaches Shyann the hula dance. A Brazilian guest, Martha, wears a flowing blue dancing dress and brings homemade fruit-shaped candy and paper flowers. Juan visits from Mexico and brings a piñata in the shape of a bull, filled with surprises. All the guests learn to say “Happy Birthday” in Arabic when Maya arrives, bringing Egyptian decorations, a tall, festive cake and a bracelet made from special stones. Tsehai brings a netala, explained as a traditional shawl, provides birthday greetings in Amharic and teaches an Ethiopian dance. Shyann’s German friend Tommy wears lederhosen and shares a German custom of a piling a chair with gifts, then dancing around it while singing. Shyann has another friend from Kenya, who brings greetings in Swahili, a dance and some Kenyan shillings. Finally, Lee arrives from China and bows to greet the assembled guests, fortune cookies in hand. Presented in verse form with no specific meter, It’s Your Birthday Shyann is fully and brightly illustrated, with a small map and flag included for each visitor, as well as basic instructions for the dances. Hill provides proper pronunciations and depicts each visitor in a traditional costume, teaching readers about many different cultures. While the bright illustrations lack sophistication, younger children aren’t likely to be bothered. Older readers may find the costumes and the introduction to other languages interesting and worthy of further study.

A valuable tale that promotes multicultural education.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-60402-867-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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