MIEKO AND THE FIFTH TREASURE

The Japanese calligrapher's ``four treasures'' are brush, paper, inkstick, and inkstone; the ``fifth'' is a beauty of heart informing the brushstrokes and bringing word-pictures to life. It is this that Mieko, at ten a talented student of the art, fears she has lost after her hand is injured in the atomic blast that destroyed Nagasaki. Bitterly ashamed of her disfigured hand (and soul), overwhelmed by homesickness (she's been sent to her grandparents in the country), Mieko is most despondent because she can no longer paint. In time, the encouragement of her elders—and especially of a gentle new friend—help draw her out of her pain and isolation and she begins to paint again. As in Coerr's well- loved biographical Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977), the horrors of the bombing are not dwelt on here; again, the subtler underlying menace is a child's vulnerability to war. In contrast to Sadako's valiant, doomed struggle, Mieko's fictional experience is one of healing and renewed hope, expressed in the same quiet, economical prose. Since the stakes are not as high—Mieko is never in mortal danger—the story is less stirring. Still, this has its own message about the paradoxical fragility and resilience of the human spirit. Calligraphy by Cecil Yuehara not seen. (Fiction. 8- 11)

Pub Date: April 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-22434-3

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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