A gorgeous re-envisioning of an old, old story.

THE ENDURING ARK

A fresh take on an enduring tale retells the story of Noah and Na’mah and the great flood.

The book’s innovative accordion design illustrated in the Bengal Patua style of scroll painting is just one of the sumptuous design elements that distinguish it as a remarkable offering. A slipcase decorated with the eponymous ark adrift on swirling blue ocean waters covers the hardcover; when it is revealed, it shows pairs of animals, two by two aboard the vessel. The first pages invite readers to open up the spreads side by side so they unfurl into a continuous piece of art, first showing a great eye looking down upon verdant landscape. Omniscient opening narration acknowledges the story’s ancient origins and says, “great tales deserve to be repeated—and so let me tell it here again, in my way.” The familiar tale progresses and refreshingly gives an equal role to Na’mah as she and Noah hear God’s warning, build the ark and gather animal pairs to board it. Once the world floods, the art unfolds in the opposite direction, neatly bisecting the story into ante- and postdiluvian parts. A curious artistic decision shows the people not saved by the ark smiling as they succumb to the flood waters, but all other illustrations, including the culminating vision of the rainbow, are sublime.

A gorgeous re-envisioning of an old, old story. (Picture book/art book. 3 & up)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-93-80340-18-0

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...

MOMMY'S KHIMAR

From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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