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Pilkey (The Paperboy, p. 141, etc.) joins the medieval fray with a bucolic approach to the journey of gargoyles from the cathedrals of the Middle Ages to modern cityscapes. The half-comic, half-grotesque, goblin-like animals and monsters from medieval religious art, once representing evil and temptation from a dragon-infested underworld, here become contemporary symbols of the misunderstood, in contrast to the spooky black-and-white gargoyles in Eve Bunting and David Wiesner's Night of the Gargoyles (1994). In rhyming pairs of couplets, Pilkey tells of the lonely, the lost, the left behind, all in lowercase type: ``god bless the ones who sing everything wrong/god bless the ones who do not belong.'' Blue angels rescue shadowy gargoyles and wing their way amidst cathedrals and stained glass windows, above skyscrapers, across a deep blue-and-purple night. Pilkey infuses his skies with much of the same fantasy inventiveness as Chagall; however, the solitary spread that pinpoints a specific setting creates for readers a visual pun of sorts—gargoyles hover as witnesses to angels who land in the well-known Edward Hopper painting of a diner, Night Hawks. Perhaps the quintessential American image of loneliness and isolation, the scene proves ``that the souls of the lost weren't really alone.'' The constrained cadences are more statement than story, weighing down the lilting paintings with their hopeful but heavy message. Still, readers will find solace in this modern-day answer to existentialism. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-200248-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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The thoughtless words of childhood become the focus of the narrator's haunted memories of WW II. Helen recalls the events of her ninth birthday in occupied France in 1942. Lydia, her best friend, comes over to spend the night, and they amuse themselves by telling ghost stories. When a stranger wearing a yellow star like Lydia's comes looking for a place to hide, Lydia suddenly wants to go home. Helen is angry and shouts to the departing girl that she is not her friend anymore. The next day Lydia and her family have disappeared. The simple storyline brings together a complex combination of elements—ghost stories and fights between friends who suddenly find themselves in the context of war—all of which are penetrated by an equally complex narratorial voice, capable of differentiating among subtle shades of emotion. It belongs both to the old woman telling the story and to the nine-year-old girl she was. As a result of this layering of perspective, the characters and story have depth through minimal means (sketchy details, snatches of conversation). This is even more effective in the wondrous pictures. In her first book, Kang's palette contains only browns, grays, yellows, and redsmuted colors, forming the geometric interiors of barren apartments. If the individual colors and shapes in the pictures are simple, as a whole they create an intensely expressive atmosphere. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 8, 1995

ISBN: 0-8027-8373-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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From the Zara's Rules series , Vol. 1

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel.

A 10 ¾-year-old girl weathers changes in her social circle—and her sense of self.

Dubbed “Queen of the Neighborhood” by beloved neighbor Mr. Chapman, who has sadly left Maryland for balmy Florida, Zara is apprehensive when a family with two kids moves into his house, potentially upsetting the delicate social balance. Readers familiar with Khan’s Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream books, set a few years after this series opener, will recognize the bustling Pakistani American Muslim household. Assertive, organized Zara and rambunctious 7-year-old Zayd live with their Mama and Baba; the siblings’ grandparents and uncle are integral parts of their daily lives. Zara and Zayd enjoy playing outside with their friends—Black sisters Jade and Gloria, White Alan, and Chinese American Melvin. Mr. Chapman always said that Zara knew how to “rule with grace and fairness,” but new arrivals Naomi and Michael, Jewish kids who are eager to engage socially, put this to the test. When Jamal Mamoo, Mama’s brother, brings over his Guinness World Records book, Zara decides that becoming a world-record holder is the boost her social status needs. Her humorous (and futile) attempts to make her mark ultimately lead her to being a more patient and understanding big sister and more flexible and supportive companion to friends old and new. Strong pacing, fluid prose, engaging hijinks, and heartwarming scenes of family life and outdoor play are complemented by expressive illustrations.

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9759-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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