A vibrant exploratory presentation that should be supplemented with other books.

GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS

A MUSLIM BOOK OF COLORS

A sophisticated color-concept book featuring a contemporary family introduces Islam to young Muslims and children who don’t practice this faith.

Here the basic colors, plus gold and silver, are used to explain aspects of Islamic life. A young girl with very large eyes narrates, using short, childlike and occasionally forced verses to match colors and objects: “Gold is the dome of the mosque, / big and grand. / Beside it two towering / minarets stand.” She describes a red prayer rug, her mom’s blue hijab (headscarf), white kufis (traditional men’s woven hats), black ink for a calligraphic design, brown dates for Ramadan, orange henna designs, an Eid gift of a doll with a purple dress, a yellow zakat (charity) box, a green Quran (green has special significance in Islam, not explained here), and a silver fanoos, “a shiny lantern.” The glossary is excellent, explaining unfamiliar terms succinctly. The stylized illustrations, richly detailed, often play with the sizes of the objects in a surrealistic way. It is difficult to tell whether the family lives in the Middle East, Britain (home of the artist) or North America. The secular architecture looks Western, but the mosque looks very grand and Middle Eastern. The clothing styles are difficult to associate with a particular country. This both maximizes accessibility and deprives the tale of specificity—clearly a conscious trade-off.

A vibrant exploratory presentation that should be supplemented with other books.   (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7905-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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