Striking, memorable imagery—a lost hat enjoying a new life as a bird’s nest, the mystery of a cicada’s molted...

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ARE YOU AN ECHO?

THE LOST POETRY OF MISUZU KANEKO

A combined picture-book biography and brief anthology of poems by Japan’s foremost 20th-century poet for children.

In her brief life, Misuzu Kaneko wrote and published hundreds of poems exploring the feelings of snowflakes and sardines, whales and birds. After her death, though her work was translated into many other languages, Misuzu’s poetry fell into obscurity in Japan, revived only following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Tohoku. The biographical portion of the book, by journalist Jacobson, covers Misuzu’s triumphs and tragedies, incorporating 10 poems that reflect her interest in the natural world and her gift for investing creatures and inanimate objects with unique perspectives. This section also sensitively addresses Misuzu’s suicide at age 26, following the swift progression of a then-untreatable sexually transmitted infection contracted from her husband. The second half of the book, which can be read along with the biography or separately, comprises 15 more of Misuzu’s poems—presented in both the original Japanese and in translation—accompanied by warm, thematically related illustrations. Each brief poem addresses nature, children’s observations, or both, in language that will be both accessible to the youngest readers and thought-provoking for adult caregivers.

Striking, memorable imagery—a lost hat enjoying a new life as a bird’s nest, the mystery of a cicada’s molted husk—guarantees fruitful rereadings for readers of all ages. (Picture book/poetry/biography. 6-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63405-962-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Chin Music Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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