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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 Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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A wondrous occurrence, an ancient tradition, and an elderly nun’s abiding faith are the basis of this moving Chirstmas tale from dePaola (26 Fairmount Avenue, p. 629, etc.). Sister Angie is overjoyed when her niece Lupe and her husband are selected to play Mary and Joseph—here, Maria and José—for Las Posadas, the reenactment of the journey into Bethlehem. When Sister Angie becomes ill and Lupe and Roberto become stranded in a heavy snowstorm, it seems as if the celebration will be delayed. However, a couple arrives just in time to take the place of the missing players. The whole village participates in the procession, from the singers who follow Mary and Joseph, to the “devils” who attempt to prevent the weary travelers from finding lodging. After several rebuffs, the couple arrives at the gates of the courtyard; these open and the entire assembly enters to celebrate. When Lupe and Roberto finally show up, the other couple is nowhere to be found. The story takes a supernatural twist when Sister Angie discovers that the figures in the church’s manger scene have come to life, temporarily, for the procession. The mysteries and miracles of the season are kept at bay; this simple narrative spells everything out, resulting in a primer on the tradition. Richly hued, luminescent illustrations radiate from the pages; an introduction and author’s note provide additional information. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23400-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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Johnson (All Around Town, 1998) sketches out the activities for the six days leading up to Sunday. Monday is reserved for the blues, Tuesday for double Dutch workouts, Wednesday for choir practice, Thursday for reading with Miss Augusta (“books filled with magic words. We can taste them and hear them and fashion them—speak words written and said long ago to make today and tomorrow our own”), Friday—“Finally Friday,”—with its fish and hush puppies, and workday Saturday. Then comes Sunday at the Lovely Hill Baptist Church, and displays of fashion, toe-tapping music, gathering, and feasting. The spirituality in these pages is caring and inclusive, so no one is a stranger here; Geter’s pastels are studied and a little self-conscious, but as warm as the biscuits served at Sunday dinner. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-4911-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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