Neither a story with a plot nor a full-blown memoir, this brief look at a town suspended in time resonates with happiness...

READ REVIEW

ORANI

MY FATHER'S VILLAGE

Intriguing pictures full of small details bring alive the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures of a small Sardinian town in the 1950s.

Nivola traveled to Orani during many summers of her childhood, when it was still a traditional village, albeit one that was growing more prosperous than the home her father left behind in 1926. She remembers in words and pictures first arriving by boat, then riding by car and finally sitting with her cousins “[u]nder a fig tree, beside the laundry, among the chickens” to discuss the differences between America and Orani. She goes on to recount the daily adventures of seeing a newborn baby, watching the tailor make velvet jackets for the shepherds and finding “a fledgling fallen from its nest.” Drinking in the carefully delineated, naive watercolors and sensory prose, young readers attend three-day weddings and funerals for old men, buried in their holiday clothes. They experience the Corpus Christi holidays, with a horse race through the narrow streets of the village, and the family meals with “cheese from someone’s cow, the honey from someone’s bees.”

Neither a story with a plot nor a full-blown memoir, this brief look at a town suspended in time resonates with happiness and could spark some children to reflect on their own idyllic summers in a new way.   (map, author’s note) (Picture book/memoir. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-35657-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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