LET THERE BE LIGHT

Abstract washes of light give way to equally lambent peaceable-kingdom scenes to illustrate Tutu’s rhapsodic retelling of the Bible creation story.

Drawn from his Children of God Storybook Bible (2010), the author’s simply phrased text highlights God’s love—which “bubbled over when there was nothing else”—as the motivating force behind each day’s acts of creation. The indistinct shape of a robed, standing figure can be discerned within the initial burst of radiance and also in later illustrations amid clouds and waves, at the heart of a flower and in the subtly modulated colors of various skies. Along with showers of sparkles in some scenes, Tillman recycles a visual element from her own The Crown on Your Head (2011) by clapping shiny crowns atop the heads of a racially diverse group of smiling children in the final illustrations. Further piling on the sentimentality, she transforms the magnificent, exactly detailed elephants, lions and other animals that pose grandly in earlier pictures to toylike figures at the children’s feet. “Isn’t it wonderful!” concludes God, clapping his hands. Yes, but here the wonder comes with a generous coating of goo. (Religion/picture book. 6-8)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-310-72785-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare.

SAM AND CHARLIE (AND SAM TOO!)

Not even the worthy subject matter can overcome the herky-jerky writing in this rare glimpse into everyday Jewish life.

Over four short chapters, a boy and a girl become good friends in spite of misunderstandings. When Sam overhears that the new kid next door is named Charlie, he’s initially thrilled to find a playmate. To his surprise, he discovers that both Charlie and her little sister Sam (or “Sam Too”) are girls. That makes little difference, though, since Charlie’s a stellar buddy. The chapter on “Sharing” tests that new friendship when both Sam and Charlie crave the last prune hamentaschen. They’re closer after Sam aims to cheer up Charlie on “Sick Day,” but “The Bad Haircut” undoes that good with a callous comment. Finally on “I’m Sorry Day,” aka Yom Kippur, the two apologize, and hilarity ensues. The text’s level of difficulty is ideal for the emerging reader taking baby steps into chapter books, but even the great subject matter (the everyday lives of Jewish kids) can’t make up for abrupt transitions between those chapters, lines like “Friendship is the best medicine,” and odd lessons on losing on purpose to keep a friendship going. Tambellini’s illustrations complement the action beautifully but cannot save the weak writing.

Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7213-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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VILE

A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR LITTLE MONSTERS

Two rival Academies in the town of Beastieville counterintuitively offer either training in good manners for the already-virtuous or a bad-behavior curriculum tailored to students who “pester, pinch, and push, / who sniffle in their snot.” Unsurprisingly, it’s the University of Vile that takes center stage in this import, as variously hairy, blobby, garishly colored cartoon monsters crowd through the doors for encouragement in disruption (“It’s vital in the classroom to be messy, loud, and spiteful. / ‘More volume, class,’ the teacher calls. / ‘A racket is delightful’ ”). Then two Viles fall into a deep hole, and have to help each other to get out. They’re summarily expelled, of course, and a page turn later have been transformed into little angels (more or less) through instruction in making “right choices every day” at the other school. Though not really “cautionary” in the Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls sense, this does offer some memorable lines (“Even if I haven’t picked the right school, I’ll have picked the right nostril”) and acting out to counter the bland modeling more common in standard manner manuals. (Picture book. 6-8)

 

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7459-6254-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lion/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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