SMOKY NIGHT

A noted author (Fly Away Home, 1991) brings all her empathy and creative skill to another timely topic: an inner-city riot. Standing well back from their window, Daniel and his mama watch looters steal TVs and break into Kim's market. When it quiets down the two fall asleep, only to be roused: their building is burning, so they escape, through ravaged streets, to a shelter. Though Bunting offers no reasons for the violence, she succinctly describes the mob's psychology. Mama explains, "...people get angry. They want to smash and destroy. They don't care anymore what's right...After a while it's like a game," while Daniel observes, "They look angry. But they look happy, too." The story is rounded out with a touch of reconciliation: Mama has't patronized Kim's market ("...it's better if we buy from our own people") but, after Daniel's cat and Mrs. Kims' make friends at the shelter, the people realize that they, too, could be friendly. Diaz's art — rough-edged acrylic paintings mounted on collages of paper, burnt matches, and materials that might be found blowing on a California street — is extraordinarily powerful. Defined in heavy black, the expressionistically rendered faces are intense with smoky shades and dark, neon-lit color. An outstandingly handsome book that represents its subject realistically while underplaying the worst of its horrors; an excellent vehicle for discussion. (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-269954-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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