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A STORY ABOUT AFIYA

A unique and beautiful combination of poetic story and expressive art.

A young girl wears a special white dress that records her day’s experiences in this story by Jamaican poet Berry.

Afiya’s “fine black skin…shows off her white clothes,” a summer dress that she wears every day and washes every night. By day, the “frock” picks up images of whatever Afiya passes among—sunflowers, red roses, butterflies, animals, fish, or falling leaves. By night, the imprints stay when she washes her dress, but in the morning, her dress is white again, ready for new patterns and colors to impress themselves upon it. Afiya is “amazed” at the wonders she finds on her dress, and readers will be amazed at the beauty of Cunha’s artistic rendering. Afiya’s hair surrounds her head like a crown, and the fantastical colors of her natural world, landscapes dominated by muted pinks, blues, and burnt yellow, all serve to enhance the beauty of Afiya’s dark skin. The spare, matte illustrations offer a feast of images to set the imagination soaring while the surreal story and its unusual language turn the wheels of the mind.

A unique and beautiful combination of poetic story and expressive art. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-911373-33-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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