In the spirit of Johnson's poetic voice, which Ransome describes as ``influenced by the...imagery of nineteenth-century African-American plantation preachers,'' the romantic, sun- dappled paintings here are more literal than Carla Golembe's striking, boldly stylized art for her edition (1993) of this splendid verse retelling by the well-loved poet. Pictures of an African-American preacher and his rapt audience of children alternate with handsome full-bleed spreads depicting the six days of creation: what might be the Grand Canyon; a stream rushing through rocks; a blossom-strewn forest floor beside the stream; and so on, to a dark man among the flowers. Rhythmic friezes of animals adorn the text pages of this carefully structured, realistic presentation. The style could hardly be more different from Golembe's: less provocative, more conventional and accessible, yet also painted with real artistry and conviction. It's a measure of the poem's quality that it inspires such a rich variety of responses. (Poetry/Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: April 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-8234-1069-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1994

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Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque.


Children welcome readers into different mosques to learn about varying activities and services that take place in them.

Though many different mosques and children are depicted, the voices call readers’ attention to the similarities among Muslim communities around the world. Yuksel highlights the community eating together; women, men, and children sharing the space and praying together; grandfathers thumbing their tasbihs; grandmothers reading the Quran; aunties giving hugs; children playing. The effect is to demonstrate that a mosque is more than just a building but rather a space where children and adults come together to pray, give, learn, and play. Joyful characters describe what happens in simple, poetic language: “In my mosque, the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes in the air. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, linked like one long chain.” Aly’s bright illustrations pair well with Yuksel’s words, ending with a beautiful spread of children staring at readers, waving and extending their hands: “You are welcome in my mosque.” The variety of mosques included suggests that each has its own unique architecture, but repeating geometric patterns and shapes underscore that there are similarities too. The author’s note guides readers to her website for more information on the mosques depicted; they are not labeled, which is frustrating since the backmatter also includes a tantalizing list of famous mosques on every continent except Antarctica.

Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque. (glossary, sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297870-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A disjointed yet sincere story about family, Judaism, and finding oneself.


Hannah is desperate to be Jewish.

Grandma Mimi, her mother’s mother, is Jewish, so according to Jewish law she must be too, right? Even if her White father, who was raised Catholic, and her nonreligious mother don’t seem to think so. When Hannah attends her best friend Shira’s bat mitzvah, she finally finds the place where she feels she belongs, and she decides to have her very own bat mitzvah. Unfortunately, her parents—especially her mother—vehemently disagree. So, Hannah schemes with Grandma Mimi and Aunt Yael, a rabbi and her mother’s estranged sister, to prepare for her own bat mitzvah. Hannah secretly learns Hebrew and studies her Torah portion in six months, and her rapid mastery of the language feels unrealistic. Her experience is an authentic portrayal of struggling to find oneself through religion even when parents may not be supportive. However, Hannah’s parents’ constant negativity about Judaism—her father frequently “jokes” in ways that read like microaggressions, and the context for her mother’s hostile comments is not revealed until the end—will be deeply uncomfortable for some readers, though the novel does end with a positive message of love and acceptance. The mix of prose, poetry, and recipes is original, but the execution leads to a disjointed and choppy read. Readers questioning their sense of belonging could find this to be exactly what they need.

A disjointed yet sincere story about family, Judaism, and finding oneself. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38691-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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