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SORA AND THE CLOUD

An airy flight of imagination, bi-cultural as well as bilingual.

A cloud carries a delighted lad over a city and an amusement park, past kites and fireworks, then on to dreams.

A fearless climber since toddlerdom, young Sora (Japanese for “Sky”) takes on a tree one day and finds a smiling, pink-cheeked cloud in the branches. Clambering aboard, he floats over streets and other sights before drifting off to sleep—dreaming of puddles as the cloud floats through a rain shower and of digging in sand after a seagull’s cry—and then gently coming back to Earth. Adding Japanese decorations to kites and other details, plus occasional touches of subtle humor (when Sora looks down at a busy playground his “Look! Ants!” is not a figure of speech), Hoshino illustrates this idyll with delicately colored paper-collage and paint scenes featuring semitransparent figures in harmonious compositions. Likewise, her poetic narrative (“From way, waaay, waaaay up in the sky, / fireworks whisper like the soft pitter-pattering of your heart”) is not only paralleled by a Japanese translation but extended by Japanese exclamations in the pictures and explanatory notes at the end.

An airy flight of imagination, bi-cultural as well as bilingual. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59702-027-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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