GLEAM AND GLOW

In this aptly titled, lovely effort from Bunting (We Were There, below, etc.), humanity simply shines through. The work is all the more luminous for its basis in actual events. Set against the turmoil of the Bosnian war, it concerns a family left bereft by the absence of the patriarch, who has gone off to fight with the underground. One day, a man fleeing his village stops at the family’s home and leaves a bowl containing two goldfish with the children. Despite the fact that the mother knows that her own family will have to depart soon, she gives in to her children’s pleas and allows them to keep the fish. Named Gleam and Glow, they literally and figuratively serve as the only bright spots in this bleak existence. The night before the family leaves, eight-year-old Viktor slips the fish into the pond on their property. Now all the family can think about is their safety and a hoped-for reunion with Papa, who eventually locates his wife and youngsters in a refugee camp. Many months pass before villagers can return to their homes. Sadly, houses and towns have been ravaged in the meantime, but this family discovers to its astonishment that life, if only in a small way, has transcended the horrors of war: Gleam and Glow have miraculously survived and multiplied many times over. Sylvada’s (A Symphony of Whales, 1999, etc.) oil paintings are dramatic and energetic. An author’s note recounts the true story that inspired the tale. Though characters’ names place them in an Eastern European milieu, this is a universal story that testifies to life rising from the ashes. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202596-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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THOSE SHOES

The hottest fad can also be the most expensive and out of reach for children in limited financial circumstances. Jeremy, living with his Grandma, dreams of wearing the latest cool black high-tops with two white stripes. But as Grandma points out, “There’s no room for ‘want’ around here—just ‘need’ ” and what Jeremy needs and gets is a new pair of winter boots. Jeremy’s quest for new sneakers takes on more urgency when his old pair fall apart, and the only choice is the Velcro baby-blue set meant for little kids found in the school’s donation box by the guidance counselor. Even Grandma understands and together they search several thrift shops and actually find the coveted black high-tops, but they’re too small. Buying them anyway, Jeremy makes a heartfelt decision to put them to a more practical and generous use. Boelts blends themes of teasing, embarrassment and disappointment with kindness and generosity in a realistic interracial school scenario bringing affecting closure to a little boy’s effort to cope in a world filled with materialistic attractions and distractions. Muted browns/greens/blues done in watercolors, pencils and ink, and digitally arranged, add to the story’s expressive affirmation of what is really important. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2499-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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