DREAM CARVER

Mateo, a young boy who lives in the southern Mexican village of Monte Alban, learns to carve traditional wooden toys (juguetes) at his father’s side. But he is haunted by visions of larger and more colorful animals. When he tells his father of his desire to carve those he imagines, his father discourages him: “Stop these foolish dreams. We have work to do.” But Mateo does not give up—although his first efforts are disappointing. Eventually he succeeds in carving a magnificent quetzal, followed by an amazing array of large, colorful animals in active poses. Cordova’s bright, acrylic illustrations on gessoed ground lovingly portray Mateo, his family, his village, and the amazing wooden animals, splashed with polka dots and intricate designs. Spanish words are interspersed throughout the story; although their meanings are clear from the context, a pronunciation guide would have been helpful. Shepard Barbash provides an endnote on Oaxacan wood carving and the work of Manuel Jiménez, who inspired this story. The message, clearly stated at the outset with a quotation from Goethe—“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”—may exceed the grasp of the children for whom the book is intended, but Cordova’s depictions of Mateo’s animals may win them over. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8118-1244-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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