THE SEVEN GODS OF LUCK

The kindness and generosity of two children result in a great reward for them at New Year's in an unusual fable set in Japan. Sachiko and her brother, Kenji, are saddened when their mother comes home empty-handed on New Year's Eve, so they decide to try to sell some hairpins and chopsticks they have made, in order to buy rice for their meal. On their way, they pass the Seven Gods of Luck—life-sized statues exemplifying virtues like wisdom, long life, and beauty—and dust the snow off them. They can't sell their things, but do trade wares with an old man, so that they can all go home for the night. They procure six straw hats that they attach to the statues—upon the seventh Sachiko bestows her scarf—to keep the gods free from snow. Their gesture prods the gods to give the family a fabulous New Year's meal in seven pots. Kudler's first book is predictable, but does reveal the stark simplicity of this Japanese household, and provides a window into traditions and daily life. Although two paintings show the children with the very wares that they have already traded away, Finch's watercolors are well done and innovative in composition, and manage to present fresh details of an unfamiliar culture in every picture. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-78830-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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