LETTERS TO A PRISONER

“The pen is mightier than the sword” lives on.

In this wordless picture book, a light-skinned man moves from a peaceful protest march with his young child to imprisonment for his views and finally back to his home—with the help of letters from around the world.

The cartoons are masterful black-ink sketches with highlights of watercolor. Placards carried by the man and his cohorts bear bright red, filled-in circles, similar to the appearance of his daughter’s balloon. When the amorphous, peaceful band of protestors reaches an official-looking building, a frightening, well-organized phalanx of dark-blue soldiers in helmets appears, threatening violence. One soldier injures the man, who is then dragged into an ambulance. Not brutal enough? The soldier deliberately pops the daughter’s balloon. The man languishes in solitary confinement, sharing bread crumbs with a mouse and a bird. The cartoons illustrate the prisoner’s experiences of nostalgia, tedium, and hopelessness. When letters start arriving, the man’s joy is short-lived; the guard burns them. But as diverse groups and individuals send more and more letters, the dark smoke sends an SOS around the world. An image both beautiful and funny shows the man flying on wings of letters, as the guard below utters profanities. An author’s note (translated by Angela Keenlyside) informs readers that Goldstyn was inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of human rights organization Amnesty International. His book is an accessible and inspiring tribute.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” lives on. (author’s note) (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77147-251-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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