IT’S USEFUL TO HAVE A DUCK

Why on earth is it useful to have a duck? In a series of accordioned spreads on yellow board, a little boy reveals the answers, accompanied by swift line sketches that illustrate them: “I use him for a hat. / He can be a whistle or a straw” (here the duck and boy are depicted beak-to-lips). The work would be no more than a quaint curiosity were it not for the verso, on blue board, which is titled It’s Useful to Have a Boy, in which the identical images receive a very different gloss in the duck’s voice: “I use his head to see the view / and he gives me kisses.” Bands of yellow or blue line each fold to contrast with the primary background color and to unify the whole. Do not be deceived by the simple-looking board format: This is not for babies. Rather, it challenges children who have accepted the initial premise with developmentally appropriate narcissism to regard the world from the opposite perspective. Gently mind-bending, this playful Mexican import, packaged in a slipcase, will get readers thinking. (Novelty. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-88899-927-6

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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