A GIFT OF LOVE

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

A gently told story of loss and love from a child’s perspective, written by a former grade school teacher who served in Iraq, dedicated to the memory of members of the New York City Fire Department “and all who fell” on September 11, 2001.

Written in simple, at times uneven, rhyme, this awkwardly illustrated but heartfelt story begins as an affectionate dad helps his adoring daughter get ready for her first day as a second grader. After a pancake breakfast, she tries on her dad’s FDNY helmet, proud that “My father is a fireman, and he is strong and brave. / There is not anybody that my daddy cannot save.” As she snuggles into his “barreled chest” while he has his morning coffee, we learn that mom is due for a meeting at the World Trade Center: “A house of steel and stone, / which has a matching tower and they stand boldly alone.” The little girl packs her lunch, her dad gives her his badge for show-and-tell and it’s off to school for a seemingly normal day. Then comes an announcement that buses have arrived to take the children home early. Dr. Claus handles what comes next with sensitivity, aware that young children would be confused and anxious, unable to interpret what was happening around them. When the little girl arrives home, she sees a crowd of adults gathered around the TV in the living room and wonders if it’s “a birthday surprise for Daddy.” Then her tearful mother takes her to a quiet room, holds her close and explains that “Four hijacked planes; it sounds insane; exploded on impact / Hurting innocent people in a terrorist attack.” She tells her daughter that Daddy was a hero who saved many lives that day, including Mom’s. When it turns out that he has left his daughter the present that he had promised her just that morning, that small surprise symbolizes a comforting “gift of love” in a time of profound loss. Some verses should be reworked to scan evenly and the ragged cartoon illustrations are an unfortunate choice, but this children’s book by Dr. Claus, with its core message about the healing power of love, treats a difficult subject with great sensitivity, warmth and reassurance.

 

Pub Date: June 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1614970019

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Dr. Claus Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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CINDERELLA

This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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