The artistic condescension and incongruities make this a marginal offering at best.

GIFTS OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

PATRONESS OF LATIN AMERICA

On Dec. 12, 1531, in newly colonized Mexico City, the Virgin Mary appeared to an Aztec farmer, Juan Diego, and spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native language, telling him to ask the bishop to build her church.

Despite Mary’s command, the Spanish bishop refused to comply until, after repeat visits, Juan Diego opened his cloak and roses cascaded out, revealing the image of Mary with the skin tone and features of an Indigenous Mexican woman. The bishop finally relented and had the church built on the hill of Tepeyac, where millions visit to this day. Demi’s retelling is both often at odds with the historical record and unabashedly Euro-centric: “In 1519 AD, the powerful Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes, landed in Mexico.” Cortes arguably was not a “conquistador” prior to the Mexican campaign. He had been a bureaucrat and owner of Indigenous slaves in Hispaniola and Cuba. Additionally, Demi’s familiar style is incongruous against the setting of 16th-century Mexico. Juan Diego and his fellow Aztecs are garbed in sombreros and clothing from the Mexican Revolution—more than 300 years in the future—and the Spanish conquistadors bear a resemblance to images of Mongol warriors. Furthermore, the Virgin herself appears more Asian then Aztec, and Juan Diego’s childlike depiction belies the fact that he was 57 at the time. Demi also fails to portray the modern basilica even though she ends her retelling in modern Mexico.

The artistic condescension and incongruities make this a marginal offering at best. (further information) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-937786-73-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Younger audiences may be mostly interested in the bonking and stinky parts, but the rudiments are at least in place for...

LIFT-THE-FLAP BIBLE STORIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Ten tales from the Old and New Testaments, with plot points and lessons hidden beneath large, shaped flaps.

Higgins depicts Jesus as a bit larger than those around him but otherwise draws him and the rest of the cast—including angels—with similar-looking round heads, wide-open eyes, slightly crooked beards (on the men), and dark brown or olive skin. Cycling arbitrarily among various tenses, the abbreviated, sanitized, and informally retold episodes begin in “a garden” with the tree, most of Adam and Eve, and the “tricky serpent” who “will trick them” initially hidden beneath die-cut flaps. Lifting the largest reveals the disobedient first couple sporting flashy animal-skin togs and text that promises that “God had a plan to save people from sin.” After Noah boards the “crowded, noisy, and stinky” ark, Moses leads the escape from plague-ridden Egypt (“Frogs and locusts! Yucky sores and flies!”), and “David bonks Goliath.” God’s promise eventually bears fruit with the birth and select miracles of Jesus. In the climactic scene, three distant crosses hide beneath a flap that depicts Jerusalem, while behind a tomb in the foreground an angel literally fizzes with fireworks. Beneath a bush readers see Mary (Magdalen) weeping until the risen Jesus (beneath another bush) gives her a hug: “Go tell the disciples that I am alive!”

Younger audiences may be mostly interested in the bonking and stinky parts, but the rudiments are at least in place for homiletic discussion. (Novelty/religion. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5064-4684-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf.

WHEN WE SAY BLACK LIVES MATTER

The author of The Patchwork Bike (illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd, 2016) writes to children about the meaning of the phrase Black Lives Matter.

Pastel illustrations, also by Clarke, on dark, textured paper are paired with oversized, contrasting text addressed to “Little one.” In the visuals, a family that begins as a couple expecting a baby grows into a family with a child and then becomes part of a community in protest, marching for Black lives, before a final page shows a jubilant Black boy in a cap and gown. The adult narrator explains that “when we say Black Lives Matter, / we’re saying Black people are wonderful-strong.” Other meanings of the rallying cry, when it is called out, screamed, sung, laughed, and known, include a demand for respect, a defiant joy, a channeling of ancestors, an acknowledgment of trouble, and knowing one’s worth. Clarke’s text is poignant and mesmerizing, with design elements that raise the text to an artistic level, shaping it around the art and highlighting active and emotional words in color: enough, dancing, radiant, precious. The art is truly outstanding, gripping the heart from the very first spread and not letting go. With colored shapes and stained-glass motifs, these Black figures feel real and weighty. Within this deep dive are tragedy, fear, anger, and mourning alongside hope, comfort, strength, and triumph. This slim book contains a necessary and healing exploration of our current moment that will remain relevant for decades to come.

An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2238-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

ROSA PARKS

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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