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MY NAME IS YOON

An unhappy young immigrant seeks, and at last regains, a sense of self in this atmospheric, expressionistically illustrated episode. Instead of writing her own name on her papers at school, Yoon calls herself “Cat,” then “Bird”—“I wanted to be BIRD. I wanted to fly, fly back to Korea”—and even, after a classmate’s friendly culinary overture, “Cupcake.” Ultimately, she finds her balance again: “I write my name in English now. It still means Shining Wisdom.” Swiatkowska internalizes Yoon’s adjustment, both by depicting her escape fantasies literally, and by placing figures against expanses of wall that are either empty of decoration, or contain windows opening onto distant, elaborate landscapes. Reminiscent of Allen Say’s work for its tone, theme, and neatly drafted, often metaphorical art, this strongly communicates Yoon’s feelings in words and pictures both. She is also surrounded by supportive adults, and her cultural heritage, though specified, is given such a low profile that she becomes a sort of everychild, with whom many young readers faced with a similar sense of displacement will identify. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-35114-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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