Purposeful in a positive way, this imaginatively illustrated book should open readers’ eyes to issues facing children who...

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RAZIA'S RAY OF HOPE

ONE GIRL'S DREAM OF AN EDUCATION

From the CitizenKid series

The United States is still involved in Afghanistan, and interest in girls’ education in that war-torn country is a strong topic of concern.

Young Razia wants to attend the new girls’ school that is being built in her village, but her grandfather is her only ally. Her older brothers, uneducated themselves, don’t want her to attend. Little do they know that she has already taught herself to read and that she is independent enough to ask the head of the school to convince her family. It is difficult to understand why Aziz, her eldest brother, wields such power in the family, but teacher Razia Jan, modeled after a real Afghani-American who has returned to her country to spread the hope of education, knows she has to persuade him. (Confusingly, the teacher shares the protagonist’s name.) However, it is young Razia herself who proves to Aziz that education can be useful when she uses her secret literacy to give him the correct dose of medicine when he falls ill. Using collage techniques that employ photography, traditional fabrics and realistic pencil sketches, Verelst creates a striking complement to this realistic story of contemporary life. The explanatory material at the end and the classroom activities are useful for educational settings.

Purposeful in a positive way, this imaginatively illustrated book should open readers’ eyes to issues facing children who live in very different circumstances. (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-816-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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The tweaks deliver no real alterations, but the clothing and hairstyles may amuse.

DAVID ROBERTS' DELIGHTFULLY DIFFERENT FAIRY TALES

Three classic fairy tales given 20th- (and 30th-) century settings.

Originally published separately between 2001 and 2016, the stories are massaged in ways that tone down the violence of pre-Disney versions and show off the illustrator’s chops as a caricaturist. In “Cinderella” (2001), the scenes are filled with flamboyant art deco fashions and details; the fairy godmother creates a snazzy limo to take young Greta to the ball; and rosebud-lipped, pointy-nosed evil stepsisters Ermintrude and Elvira survive unmutilated. Similarly, in “Rapunzel” (2003), the title character escapes her mid-1970s flat to run off with (unblinded) pop musician Roger, and in “Sleeping Beauty” (2016), when 16-year-old science-fiction fan Annabel pricks her finger on the needle of a record player, she falls asleep for 1,000 years. The three female leads project airs of independence but really have no more agency here than in the originals. The all-White casts and conventional relationships of the first two stories do loosen a bit in “Sleeping Beauty,” as Annabel, who seems White, is watched over by an interracial pair of motherly aunts and awakened at long last (albeit with a touch, not a kiss) by Zoe, who has light-brown skin and long, black hair. Notes following each tale draw attention to the period details, and even the futuristic city at the end has a retro look. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70 % of actual size.)

The tweaks deliver no real alterations, but the clothing and hairstyles may amuse. (Fairy tales. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84365-475-9

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Nonthreatening, nonstop mayhem…next stop: Tinseltown! (Graphic adventure. 8-11)

BIG TOP OTTO

From the Elephants Never Forget series , Vol. 2

Otto the peanut-allergic elephant cracks another case.

Still looking for his missing childhood friend, Georgie the chimp, and fresh from helping the big city cops bust a gang of hoodlums, Otto and his sidekick, Crackers the parrot, make their way across the country. This time, they're following circus Punkratz & Pinky, which, if the posters are to be believed, may be where Georgie ended up after being abducted by the man with the wooden nose. Leaving a trail of inadvertent destruction (thanks to Otto's explosive allergic sneezes), they catch up to the circus only to find it's a front for exotic-animal smugglers...and Georgie has moved on. Can the bumbling duo save their new animal friends? The slapstick and goofy situations (Otto dresses as a clown; is mistaken for a football mascot; drives a peanut-shaped car) in Slavin's second full-color graphic adventure will entertain even if several jokes are well above the reading level. It’s also a bit disturbing that animals wearing clothes and speaking are still treated like animals (and hunted for sport) by humans; but the old-timey feel should win fans and please those already established.

Nonthreatening, nonstop mayhem…next stop: Tinseltown! (Graphic adventure. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-806-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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