Johnson (Sunday Week, 1999, etc.) and Ransome (The Secret of the Stones, 2000, etc.) create an affirming story of an African-American family. The girl narrator praises her grandma “Hattie Lottie Annie Quinnie Blue” and bets that she was just like her, since, it turns out, she's named after her. “Quinnie Blue, I bet you walked barefoot outdoors. Did you hear your mama say, ‘Girl, put some shoes on your feet or you might get worms?’ Or did she say, ‘Doesn't the green grass feel good tickling your toes?’” Ransome illustrates the rural Carolina setting in rich-colored oil paintings, echoing Johnson's refrain of “Quinnie Blue” with a vibrant cobalt that shows up in each composition. The page or page-and-a-half spreads are set on a frame of stained wood, against which the text and collaged spot painting make each double-paged spread feel like an open scrapbook. Cleverly, and intrinsic to the book’s success, he’s illustrated both Quinnies. On the blue-stained wood frames we see a young Grandma Quinnie sitting on the porch with family or climbing a fence; on the pink-stained wood frames we see contemporary Quinnie playing clap games (on the very same porch) or reciting at church. In these pictures, Grandma Quinnie often watches from the background, until the two are brought together at the end. Both the young Quinnies are realistic and energetic; the illustrations of both time periods have an immediacy typical of Ransome’s work. The rhythm of the text, along with the details and celebratory mood of the illustrations, makes this an excellent choice for family sharing. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-4378-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Our Verdict

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  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Caldecott Honor Book


Limpidly beautiful watercolors and a wry, puckish gentleness mark these three Zen stories, one for each of three children. Michael, Karl and Addy discover a giant panda in their backyard. (“He spoke with a slight panda accent.”) His name is Stillwater, and he tells Addy the tale of his Uncle Ry, who gave the robber who could find nothing to steal in his house his own tattered robe. (The robber, in the black-and-white illustrations that mark the three stories, is a raccoon.) When Michael comes to visit, he climbs a tree to sit with Stillwater, who tells the story of the farmer’s luck. Karl comes to visit carrying too much stuff for Stillwater’s wading pool, and hears just the right story for him. The pictures are as full of peace and solace—and humor—as the text: The title page has the panda dancing in a pair of oversize shorts; the cake Addy brings for tea has a stalk of bamboo in it for Stillwater; Karl and the panda bow to each other at the end of their day. The Buddha lurks in the details here: Every word and image comes to make as perfect a picture book as can be. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-439-33911-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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