A little boy longs for the flavors of home—and finds his wish fulfilled—in Ahvander’s debut effort. “[Grandma] always had something good to eat when Stefan and his brother came to visit: meatballs or homemade strawberry jam or Swedish pancakes,” Ahvander writes. “Stefan liked them all—most of all the pancakes.” But when Stefan moves to the Middle East, he misses his grandmother and her special treats. Lepp’s delicately drawn watercolor and pen-and-ink vignettes picture the a-ha moment as Stefan surmises a way to import pancakes using an oversized bakery box. Eschewing the postal system, Grandma and Stefan opt for the airways. First, Stefan sends his aunt back to Sweden with the box. Then a convoluted scheme finds Grandma placing an ad in the paper, meeting a stranger in the airport, and handing over the sealed box so that the man can carry it on the plane. Not the most realistic scenario, considering airport security protocol. Nevertheless, Ahvander’s sentimental tale will ring true for any child who has ever been far from the familiar. Similarly, the bond between the child and his grandmother has intergenerational appeal. Teachers and librarians wishing to familiarize children with the Middle East will find this a useful starting place. The winner of the publisher’s first manuscript competition, the work was originally published in Sweden last year. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2002

ISBN: 91-29-65652-4

Page Count: 28

Publisher: R&S/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996


Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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