WHAT ABOUT ME?

This ancient Sufi tale, with beautiful new collage-and-watercolor illustrations, follows a familiar narrative structure. A boy appeals to a Grand Master for knowledge, but the Grand Master demands a carpet first, so off goes the boy to the carpetmaker—who wants thread; the spinner won’t make thread until she is given goat hair; and so on. Finally, when his pursuits lead only to a woman seeking knowledge, the boy despairs and wanders away. In a new village, after a subtle narrative shift in which the boy becomes “the young man,” he finds a merchant who needs help. The help he offers freely then leads back to the original chain of demands: each person in the chain gets something and also provides something—wood, goats, goat hair, thread, a small carpet. A few narrative details are unfortunate: the woman who wanted knowledge is the only person who goes unfulfilled, and a girl is one of the pieces of merchandise traded—happily, but as a piece of goods. Also, the girl is confusingly white-skinned (in contrast to all the other brown-skinned Middle Eastern characters), which is disturbing since she is the only one called “beautiful.” The story flows smoothly; the illustrations skillfully and delicately use scale, posture, and composition to convey despair (the boy wandering away from his village, tiny, with his head slumped) and joy (the young man leaping, a shoe flying off). Heathered paper makes an earthy background for these expertly designed, uncluttered pages. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23624-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life.

¡VAMOS! LET'S GO TO THE MARKET

From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, journey through a Mexican mercado delivering diverse goods to a variety of booths.

With the aid of red words splattered throughout the spreads as labels, Raúl the Third gives an introduction to Spanish vocabulary as Little Lobo, an anthropomorphic wolf, leaves his house, fills his cart with objects from his warehouse, and delivers them to the market’s vendors. The journey also serves as a crash course in Mexican culture, as the images are packed with intertextual details such as food, traditional games, and characters, including Cantinflas, Frida Khalo, and Juan Gabriel. Readers acquainted with Raúl the Third’s characters from his Lowriders series with author Cathy Camper will appreciate cameos from familiar characters. As he makes his rounds, Little Lobo also collects different artifacts that people offer in exchange for his deliveries of shoe polish, clothespins, wood, tissue paper, paintbrushes, and a pair of golden laces. Although Raúl the Third departs from the ball-pen illustrations that he is known for, his depiction of creatures and critters peppering the borderland where his stories are set remains in his trademark style. The softer hues in the illustrations (chosen by colorist Bay) keep the busy compositions friendly, and the halftone patterns filling the illustrations create foregrounds and backgrounds reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s pointillism.

A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-55726-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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