Verbose, but validating nonetheless.

WINGS

THE JOURNEY HOME

A young eagle struggles to remember who he is in this tale written by husband-and-wife team William and Elizabeth Hicks.

Benjamin is one of three eaglet siblings who are attempting to ace their first flying lesson. When a strong wind blows him off course and knocks him against a cliff, he sustains injuries to his head and wing. Disoriented, he lands in a haystack on a farm where he meets a family of chickens and befriends Jeremy, the barnyard's smallest rooster. Benjamin, now suffering from avian amnesia, has no recollection of who he is or where he came from, and despite his strange appearance, he and the other farm animals (à la “The Ugly Duckling”) assume he's simply an odd-looking chicken. Ben spends his time playing acornball with Jeremy and the other animals but yearns for something greater and experiences recurrent primal urges to fly. Soon Ben's increasingly radical behavior begins to ruffle the feathers of Jeremy's father Humphrey, who fears he will corrupt and endanger his son. Meanwhile, the barnyard contends with the ongoing threat of the “Egg-stealer,” a mysterious, terrifying creature who slinks into the barn at night to steal eggs that the hens have intentionally left, hoping to appease it and prevent further carnage. Ben is determined to end the reign of the Egg-stealer and prove his worth to the community. Ben meets other creatures—a caterpillar, a dove, a hummingbird—who impart bits of wisdom that he doesn't fully understand but nevertheless confirm his suspicion that life holds greater purpose. The story may appeal to some adults, but because of its limited vocabulary, lack of complex conflicts and edification of basic axioms (such as learning to appreciate oneself and viewing one's weaknesses as strengths), it’s best suited for children. Unfortunately, the number of descriptive passages—the book’s strong point—is far surpassed by the amount of dialogue, which is sometimes trite and often goes on too long, slowing down the story. Children, however, will still root for Ben, whose greatest moment of triumph comes from believing in himself.

Verbose, but validating nonetheless.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-615-42071-4

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Inner Realm Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2012

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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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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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