THE LITTLEST MATRYOSHKA

PLB 0-7868-2125-6 As is true for Pam Conrad’s Tub People, the events in a matryoshka doll’s life depend on external manipulations and circumstances; in this case, it makes the story of a perilous journey fall somewhat flat. A set of the nesting dolls is carved in a Russian village and then sent to a toy shop in America. The outer doll, Anna, has been instructed by the maker to watch over her siblings—“Keep your sisters safe inside you”—but there is nothing she can do when the smallest doll, Nina, is accidentally brushed off the counter and unceremoniously kicked out the door. It is an odyssey in which she has absolutely no active part, nor does she have reactions, for all she possesses is a blank matryoshka face. In the meantime, a young girl who has bought the rest of the set on sale charmingly tucks a little wad of cotton into the next-to-smallest doll so she won’t feel empty. Brown’s atmospheric but docile watercolors often view the matryoshka dolls from a distance, furthering the sense that the story is about events surrounding the dolls, instead of the dolls themselves. An author’s note on the history of matryoshkas is a welcome touch. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0153-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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THE LEGEND OF THE LADY SLIPPER

AN OJIBWE TALE

Lunge-Larsen and Preus debut with this story of a flower that blooms for the first time to commemorate the uncommon courage of a girl who saves her people from illness. The girl, an Ojibwe of the northern woodlands, knows she must journey to the next village to get the healing herb, mash-ki- ki, for her people, who have all fallen ill. After lining her moccasins with rabbit fur, she braves a raging snowstorm and crosses a dark frozen lake to reach the village. Then, rather than wait for morning, she sets out for home while the villagers sleep. When she loses her moccasins in the deep snow, her bare feet are cut by icy shards, and bleed with every step until she reaches her home. The next spring beautiful lady slippers bloom from the place where her moccasins were lost, and from every spot her injured feet touched. Drawing on Ojibwe sources, the authors of this fluid retelling have peppered the tale with native words and have used traditional elements, e.g., giving voice to the forces of nature. The accompanying watercolors, with flowing lines, jewel tones, and decorative motifs, give stately credence to the story’s iconic aspects. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90512-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

Categories:

THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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