L'IL SIS AND UNCLE WILLIE

Johnson (1901-70) was a black painter, born in South Carolina and trained in New York, who lived for 12 years in Denmark, married a Danish woman, and (after her death) spent his last 20 years in a mental institution. Over 1,000 of his bold, brilliantly expressive paintings are now in the National Museum of American Art. Everett, an art educator at the museum, tells the artist's story through a careful selection of 27 of his paintings (beautifully reproduced) linked by a slightly fictionalized text narrated by Johnson's niece. The device works surprisingly well, allowing Everett to describe the man himself as an occasional, somewhat exotic, but well-loved visitor to his hometown, and to give background on some of the subjects he drew from his own life and the black experience—including cotton- pickers, Harlem dancers, and a charming portrait of Li'l Sis at age six, with her doll. There are also a few b&w photos. It would have been nice to know more about the sizes of the paintings and the mediums used; still, an excellent introduction to an outstanding artist who deserves wider recognition. (Nonfiction. 6-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 1992

ISBN: 0-8478-1462-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rizzoli

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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