BEFORE YOU WERE BORN

In this retold midrash, a father explains to his son how the angel Lailah brought him from the Treasury of Souls, placed him in a seed, taught him many secrets, tales and languages while he grew in the womb, then at the moment of his birth touched his lip, which not only caused him to forget all that had gone before, but left that indentation in the skin that everyone has. Casting human figures with rounded forms, delicately flushed cheeks and downcast eyes, Swarner illustrates the journey in quietly lyrical paintings that seem to glow beneath layers of color; the child, dressed in red, nestles within the angel’s arms and feathered wings, looking out onto a wide world rich in stars, flowers and butterflies. Schwartz closes with discussions of the tale’s sources, and of the idea of guardian angels in general; the emotional intensity of his offering will linger with children of any cultural tradition. (Picture book/folktale. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59643-028-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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ONE CANDLE

This Hanukkah story about a family’s ritual reenactment of Grandma and great-aunt Rose’s Hanukkah spent at Buchenwald many years ago during the “bad time” propounds a disturbing view of the Holocaust. Grandma and great-aunt Rose demonstrate to the family how they hollowed out a potato stolen from the kitchen at the camp, filled it with a dab of stolen margarine, made a wick from a piece of thread, and lit a candle to commemorate the holiday. Popp’s (Sister Anne’s Hands, 1998) realistic drawings of the celebration are soft and subtly colored, reflecting the family’s warmth and closeness, while the drawings of the camp are ghostly in sepia tones. Afterwards the whole family steps outside to look at the Hanukkah lights through the window and drink a toast to life. The disturbing piece is Grandpa’s comment that “The Germans didn’t like a lot of people. It wasn’t only the Jews.” For many, this is a deeply offensive statement, implying as it does that the Jews were not singled out by Hitler and the Germans for the very specific goal of total destruction. Even in the context of human history, the single-mindedness, efficiency, and technological resources put to the task make Hitler’s war against the Jews exceptional. Grandpa’s comment would be problematic in any event, but out of the mouth of the husband of a Holocaust survivor it is troubling indeed. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-060-28115-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A glorious choice for reading aloud.

NOAH'S ARK

Pinkney, at his grandest, matches a poetically phrased text—the Ark “rose over their heads. It rose over the treetops. The strong wooden beams embraced the clouds”—with sweeping spreads of dappled paintings that capture brilliantly the hugeness of the Ark a-building, the wonder of so many creatures gathering peaceably to crowd aboard, and the closing glory of a planet festooned with rainbows as signs of God’s promise to the Charlton Heston–like Noah.

Of the making of Noahs there seems to be no end, but while other recent versions of the tale put Noah’s family on center stage, or feature realistically depicted animals or humorous touches, this brings out the vast scale of the flood: “The water rose over cities and towns. Whales swam down ruined streets. Schools of fish darted through empty windows.” But turn the page and there inside “everyone was safe.” Filling his pages with lovely earth tones, Pinkney’s occasional use of color stands out all the more: a baboon’s multicolored nose, a bright blue robe, a bright red apple, or a bird’s brilliant plumage. And then there’s all that water.

A glorious choice for reading aloud. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 978-1-58717-201-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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