ORANGES ON GOLDEN MOUNTAIN

This touching and pretty picture book tells the story of Jo Lee, a young boy in 19th-century China who is sent to join his uncle on Golden Mountain (the name Chinese immigrants have given to California) when a drought has brought hardship to his village. Jo Lee is miserably seasick and homesick on the long boat trip and desperately misses his mother and sister. At first overwhelmed by the strangeness of America, eventually he adjusts to the routine of the fishing village in which Fourth Uncle lives, fishing in the mornings and stomping on the shrimp in wooden shoes until they pop out of their shells in the afternoons. Even though he is so far away from his family, Jo Lee’s Hun, his dream spirit, keeps him connected to them by leaving his body every so often and traveling to China to visit and even to act as a beneficent spirit. An afterw0rd gives historical background about Chinese immigration to the West Coast and explains the traditional Chinese belief that each person has five spirits, including the Hun, which gives people courage and the ability to dream. When a person is awake, the Hun shines out of one’s eyes, but during sleep, the Hun can wander freely. The colorful and boldly graphic illustrations are formed with cut paper and watercolors. The design of the book is particularly attractive, with most pages surrounded by a duo-colored frame. The Hun is depicted by a ghostlike, yet friendly image, and the illustration of the Dragon King, sure to appeal to children, is surrounded by dramatic swirls of color. While this is a fairly rosy picture of the experience of Chinese immigration to California in the 19th century, glossing over the hardships and prejudice, the story serves as a good introduction and is also a paean to the unbreakable bonds of mother and child. Excellent for the classroom and a useful addition to any library. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46453-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging.

ISLANDBORN

A young girl’s homework assignment unravels the history and beauty of her homeland.

Lola and her classmates are assigned to draw pictures of their respective origin countries. With excitement, the others begin sharing what they will draw: pyramids, a long canal, a mongoose. Lola, concerned, doesn’t remember what life was like on the Island, and so she recruits her whole neighborhood. There is Leticia, her cousin; Mrs. Bernard, who sells the crispy empanadas; Leticia’s brother Jhonathan, a barber; her mother; her abuela; and their gruff building superintendent. With every description, Lola learns something new: about the Island’s large bats, mangoes, colorful people, music and dancing everywhere, the beaches and sea life, and devastating hurricanes. Espinosa’s fine, vibrant illustrations dress the story in colorful cacophony and play with texture (hair especially) as Lola conjures images of her homeland. While the story does not identify the Island by name, readers familiar with Díaz’s repertoire will instantly identify it as the Dominican Republic, a conclusion that’s supported when the super recalls the Monster (Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo), and sharp-eyed readers should look at the magnets on Lola’s refrigerator. Lola, Teresa Mlawer’s translation, is just as poignant as the original.

Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2986-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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