AUNT HARRIET'S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN THE SKY

Cassie Lightfoot, whose soaring journey in Tar Beach (1991) garnered a Caldecott Honor, flies again. She and little brother Be Be are ``among the stars, way way up,'' when they happen on a train emblazoned with ``Go free north or die''; the conductor is Harriet Tubman. To Cassie's distress, Be Be boards the train; but ``Aunt Harriet'' joins Cassie in the air, telling her about slavery (as represented in five powerful paintings) and what it would be like to make the perilous journey to freedom. Cassie is shown following the trail, taking refuge in an attic, looking for such signals as ``a star quilt flung on the roof,'' hiding in a coffin, and finally flying over Niagara Falls to Canada. The transitions here—especially those involving the literally depicted locomotive, which symbolizes more realistic journeys like Cassie's; and the separation between Cassie and Be Be, who are touchingly reunited at the end (the train has vanished without comment)—are somewhat confusing; the vividly phrased narrative holds attention, however, while Ringgold's robust, authoritative paintings are splendid. Among many memorable images are dark, crowded rows of barely suggested faces on a slave ship; ghost-white slave-catchers lurking as Cassie makes her escape; and Cassie triumphant above thundering falls, painted in broad, free strokes. . A unique and creative vision. Historical note; brief bibliography. (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-517-58767-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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AMERICAN TALL TALES

For the 90's, a handsome, well-documented collection of stories about nine uniquely American characters. In her intelligent introduction, Osborne explains their genesis ``from various combinations of historical fact, the storytelling of ordinary people, and the imagination of professional writers'' and notes that changing times put a new light on stories deriding various groups (including women and even animals). Thus her intention is to emphasize ``gargantuan physical courage and absurd humor'' and to ``bring out the vulnerable and compassionate side'' despite the stories' ``ineradicable taint of violence.'' Osborne succeeds pretty well in her intention, piecing together stories that make fine introductions to characters like Mose and Stormalong. Her approach suits Johnny Appleseed and John Henry better than it does Davy Crockett battling a panther, but she does manage to put a new slant on Pecos Bill and his bouncing bride without undermining the story (there's no question of a wife's disobedience here; Sue wants to ride Bill's horse as a test of skill). The telling is more polished than lively—Glen Rounds's irrepressible wit (Ol' Paul, the Mighty Logger, 1949) is more fun, but these versions are perfectly acceptable. McCurdy's vigorous wood engravings, tinted with lucid color, contribute a rugged frontier flavor; lively, though a bit formal in style, they suit the text admirably. Each story is introduced by source notes; a story-by-story bibliography provides a good roundup of this popular genre. (Folklore. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-80089-1

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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