A good accompaniment to the duo’s Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, which featured a Western Muslim family (2012), in a...

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CRESCENT MOONS AND POINTED MINARETS

A MUSLIM BOOK OF SHAPES

A beautiful picture book simultaneously explores shapes, Islam, and the cultures of the Muslim people.

Ranging from simple (circle, rectangle, triangle, oval, diamond) to more advanced (cone, cube, hexagon, octagon, arch, crescent), various shapes introduce an object, architectural form, or concept related to Islamic faith or cultural practices. “Cube is the Ka’aba, / a most sacred site, / where Muslims worship / each day and night.” The daff (a type of drum) is a circle; the minaret is a cone; an ayah, defined as “a verse of the holy Quran” in the glossary, is printed on a hexagonal tile, and diamonds adorn a new kaftan for Eid, “an Islamic holiday.” Illustrations are elaborately adorned and ornamented, a characteristic of Islamic art, and depict Muslims of many races and ethnicities. However, Muslims dressed in noncultural clothes are largely (though not entirely) missing from illustrations, potentially reinforcing a stereotypical image for non-Muslims. This is partially remedied by the author’s note that each spread represents a different country, but without a key or labels, it is difficult to discern which ones these are. The book successfully covers a wide array of concepts, cultures, and shapes, but Islam’s vastness, rightly celebrated here, means that some choices in spelling (“mimbar” vs. “minbar”; “Ka’aba” vs. “Ka’ba” or “Ka’bah”), definition (“iftar” is not necessarily a “light” meal), and illustrative detail (the kaftan is not belted) may throw readers accustomed to other practices.

A good accompaniment to the duo’s Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, which featured a Western Muslim family (2012), in a collection of children’s books with an Islamic theme. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5541-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.

ABCS OF ART

From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.

In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.

Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Only gnashnabs would cavil at this eximious display of lexicographical largesse.

BIGGER WORDS FOR LITTLE GENIUSES

More labial lollipops for logomanes and sesquipedalian proto-savants.

The creators of Big Words for Little Geniuses (2017) and Cuddly Critters for Little Geniuses (2018) follow up with another ABC of extravagant expressions. It begins with “ailurophile” (“How furry sweet!” Puns, yet), ends with “zoanthropy,” and in between highlights “bioluminescent,” growls at a grouchy “gnashnab,” and collects a “knickknackatory” of like locutions. A list of 14 additional words is appended in a second, partial alphabet. Each entry comes with a phonetic version, a one- or two-sentence verbal definition, and, from Pan, a visual one with a big letter and very simple, broadly brushed figures. Lending an ear to aural pleasures, the authors borrow from German to include “fünfundfünfzig” in the main list and add a separate list of a dozen more words at the end likewise deemed sheer fun to say. Will any of these rare, generally polysyllabic leviathans find their way into idiolects or casual conversations? Unlikely, alas—but sounding them out and realizing that even the silliest have at least putative meanings sheds liminal light on language’s glittering word hoards.

Only gnashnabs would cavil at this eximious display of lexicographical largesse. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53445-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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