LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING

In his highly iconic reinterpretation of the beloved “Negro National Anthem,” Collier was inspired by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Below the words of the song on each double-paged spread, a loose visual storyline follows a young boy through his day. Readers see him rising; going to school; with his class, visiting the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where a 1963 bombing killed four young girls; laying a wreath at Dr. Martin Luther King’s statue, which faces the church; and singing the words of Johnson’s momentous song. Two intentional unifying visual elements predominate: water (the slave ships of the Middle Passage, the symbolic drinking fountain of the Civil Rights era, a reflecting pool) and the often upraised, lustrous faces of black school children, sometimes profiled in the clouds. A bright blue predominates in intensely hued skies and school uniforms, while Collier’s highly recognizable style incorporates watercolor and collage to meaningful effect. (illustrator’s note, words with music) (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-054147-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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OTIS

From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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