Sarah in the City of Moon

A picture-book friendship between two little girls provides a lesson in global peace and understanding.
Sarah, 5, accompanies the other children in her class on a field trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, also known as Ariha and the City of Moon. The park they visit is lush and fragrant with orange blossoms, like paradise on Earth. But when Sarah strays from the group in order to feed a starving cat, she gets lost and afraid. Ultimately, she finds her way to a mosque near the park, where a friendly older man reassures her and introduces her to his granddaughter, Raya. Before too long, Sarah’s teacher comes to the mosque to get her. By now, Sarah and Raya have become fast friends, and as the book, the Qutobs’ first, winds down, readers come to understand that the pair’s friendship has endured for 30 years, with frequent adventures in the City of Moon. The message here isn’t difficult to understand: Raya is clearly Muslim, and by Sarah’s Hebraic name and the fact that she lives only a bus ride away from Jericho, we can assume that she is Jewish or perhaps one of the Christian minority in Israel. If these children can share kindness and friendship in this beautiful oasis, why can’t everyone else? Though some may take exception to such a simplistic moral, it’s difficult to argue with the observation that tensions and prejudices are usually taught, not innate. Retaining a sense of this troubled region’s loveliness and the potential for kindness among its varied people is, in the end, a purely positive message for the children for whom this book was written. (Some proceeds from the book will support orphans from areas of political strife.) One wishes, however, for more artful illustrations; the ones here are disappointingly of a generic, cartoony, computer-generated type that does little to illustrate the subtext of finding peace, in part, through an appreciation of beauty, both physical and spiritual. The printed edition includes a soundbox tool, a thoughtful addition for children who may not always have someone to read to them.

A timeless message for a good cause; a good choice for a multicultural, multiethnic audience.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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