A subtle, visually arresting introduction to ethnic relations.

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YAFFA AND FATIMA, SHALOM, SALAAM

In this retelling of a tale rooted in both Jewish and Arab traditions, two neighbors are friends despite perceived religious tensions of the community.

Yaffa and Fatima both own date groves right next door to each other. They share meals and talk and laugh. When Fatima sees Yaffa on the street, she waves and calls, “Salaam! Peace!” Yaffa waves back and calls, “Shalom! Peace!” The text becomes a list of differences between the two women. Yaffa prays in a synagogue. Fatima prays in a mosque. Fatima celebrates Eid. Yaffa celebrates Passover. Fatima is clad in a burgundy hijab, while Jaffa has a deep teal headscarf. Those two colors, set against a neutral backdrop, lightly accent the women’s everyday surroundings as well. The tones are carefully placed to distinguish the two women but are also included in ancillary details to begin to build a feeling of unity. Gilani-Williams never distinctly references any conflict—in fact, even the Israeli setting is not specifically mentioned, only to call it the “Land of Milk and Honey.” But readers can tell, because differences very much define the women’s relationship, that they are overcoming some sort of obstacle in being friends.

A subtle, visually arresting introduction to ethnic relations.   (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4677-8938-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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HOW CHIPMUNK GOT HIS STRIPES

A TALE OF BRAGGING AND TEASING

Noted storyteller Bruchac (Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, p. 1498, etc.) teams up with his son, James (Native American Games and Stories, not reviewed) to present a pourquoi tale from the East Coast Native American tradition. Bear is undeniably big; he is also a braggart, given to walking through the forest and proclaiming his superiority to all within earshot: “I can do anything! Yes, I can!” When he hears this, little Brown Squirrel challenges Bear to tell the sun not to rise the next day. This Bear does, and when the sun does in fact rise despite his injunction not to, Brown Squirrel unwisely gloats: “Bear is foolish, the sun came up. Bear is silly, the sun came up.” Thanks to trickery, Brown Squirrel escapes with his life, but not before Bear claws the stripes into his back that cause him to change his name to Chipmunk. The Bruchacs translate the orality of the tale to written text beautifully, including dialogue that invites audience participation. Aruego and Dewey’s (Mouse in Love, p. 886, etc.) signature cartoon-like illustrations extend the humor of the text perfectly. One spread shows the faces of all the animals rejoicing in the yellow light of the newly risen sun—all except Bear, whose glower contrasts ominously with Brown Squirrel’s glee. Clever use of perspective emphasizes the difference in size between boastful Bear and his pint-sized trickster opponent. Authors’ notes precede the story, explaining the history of the tale and each teller’s relationship to it. A winner. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2404-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in.

GOD SPEAKS IN WHISPERS

Rhyming text and colorful multicultural illustrations reassure young readers of God’s omnipresence and still small voice.

“Where in the world is God’s voice found?” Perhaps in ocean waves, bird song, or mountain vistas, suggest the couplet rhymes. Even when readers might be faced with difficult emotions and distractions of all kinds, the text reassures them that God is still there and still speaking, if only one pauses to listen. His voice can be found in nature, in starlight, in the love of family and friends, in dreams, and “through His Word.” Admirably, the bright illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century Disney artist Mary Blair’s stylings, depict children and families with a diverse array of skin tones and ages. There is also a refreshing mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Yet, despite the appealing illustrations, the rhymes and scansion are often forced (“your feelings, they matter, / even if they’re all mixed up like / pancake batter”), which detracts from the overall message. Contrived couplets notwithstanding, this title will likely find an audience among Christian households seeking reassuring bedtime reads.

Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65385-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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