FATHER AND SON

A NATIVITY STORY

Joseph is often the forgotten figure of the Nativity scene: steadfast in his presence, but not able to fully claim the traditional paternal role. In this intellectually challenging work, McCaughrean explores a sophisticated theological issue from Joseph’s point of view, with the new father watching his sleeping baby and thinking ahead as to how he can properly bring up his son. The philosophical issue that Joseph struggles with is the complex idea of Jesus as both the son of God and as God himself. On each beautifully illustrated spread, Joseph and Jesus as a young child are shown in a different activity, with corresponding text that relates Joseph’s intellectual conundrum about the futility of trying to teach someone who has created the world. His conclusion is that he can offer only his strong, helping hands, watching over the child as God watches over Joseph himself. An author’s note helps to explain McCaughrean’s theological approach, which will be best appreciated by older children and young adults. The large format, excellent design values and Negrin’s luminous paintings add to this unusual volume’s appeal. (Picture book. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4231-0344-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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Warmhearted cross-cultural friendship for a refugee on distant shores: both necessary and kind.

LETTERS FROM CUBA

In 1938, a Jewish refugee from Poland joins her father in small-town Cuba.

After three years abroad, Papa’s saved only enough money to send for one of his children. Thus Esther boards the steamship alone even though she’s not quite 12. Cuba is a constant surprise: Her father’s an itinerant peddler and not a shopkeeper; they live as the only Jews in a tiny village; and she’s allowed to wear sandals and go bare-legged in the heat. But the island is also a constant joy. Nearly everyone Esther meets is generous beyond their means. She adores her new trade as a dressmaker, selling her creations in Havana to earn money to bring over the rest of the family. In glowing letters to her sister back in Poland, Esther details how she’s learning Spanish through the poems of José Martí. She introduces her sister to her beloved new friends: a White doctor’s wife and her vegetarian, atheist husband; a Black, Santería-following granddaughter of an ex-slave; a Chinese Cuban shopkeeper’s nephew. Esther’s first year in Cuba is marked by the calendar of Jewish holidays, as she wonders if she can be both Cuban and a Jew. As the coming war looms in Europe, she and her friends find solidarity, standing together against local Nazis and strike breakers. An author’s note describes how the story was loosely inspired by the author’s own family history.

Warmhearted cross-cultural friendship for a refugee on distant shores: both necessary and kind. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51647-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Readers will be excited to see where Omar’s imagination will take him next.

ACCIDENTAL TROUBLE MAGNET

From the Planet Omar series , Vol. 1

Omar, a British Pakistani boy, and his family have just moved to a new home in London, where he will be starting at a new school.

Omar worries about a lot of things, especially “walking into a brand-new classroom with everyone watching and a teacher who might or might not be an alien zombie.” He has a little brother and an older sister, and his mom and dad are both scientists. (Published in the U.K. in 2019, the text has been Americanized for the U.S. edition.) Omar has a huge imagination that helps him get through difficult situations, envisioning, for instance, “a better way to get to school…on a SUPER-Awesome, Magnificent DRAGON.” Mafaridik creatively embellishes the text with sketches and a variety of display types. At his new school, Omar makes friends with Charlie but also meets Daniel, a bully. (Both boys present White.) Omar does not tell his mom because he does not want her to worry, instead using humor and creativity to escape Daniel’s cruelty. Mian seamlessly weaves Islamic values and teachings through Omar’s chatty narration. At prayer in the mosque, “we went into Rukhu. That’s when your hands are on your knees.…Then we went into Sujood.” These descriptions and definitions are consistent and brief throughout, moving with the flow of the story. While the story’s tone is light, anti-Muslim sentiment is acknowledged and integrated into the narrative.

Readers will be excited to see where Omar’s imagination will take him next. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10921-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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