An intergenerational tale that celebrates both a specific tradition and the universal curiosity of children

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THE SPIRIT TRACKERS

After Uncle, an Anishinaabe tracker, explains to his young nephews Tom and Will the significance of the moose to their family clan and about the Windigo, the wandering night spirit of winter, the boys are determined to become trackers like him.

Uncle opens by telling how Makwasaagim, snowshoes, help trackers to walk when there is deep snow and also why their Moose Clan respects the moose for giving them many ways to survive the harsh winters. Next, he warns them about the dangers of the Windigo so they can respect the dangers of the season. That night the sleeping boys waken to loud noises and hurry to the window but soon are frightened back to bed by a black shadow in the window. The next morning they go out and strap on their Makwasaagim to investigate, finding many signs that might prove the Windigo had been there. However, when they hear haunting animal cries, the boys prove they are true trackers. Anishinaabe Waboose’s prose seamlessly threads her people’s legends with her story of a modern First Nations family that is keeping its traditions alive. Award-winning illustrator Thisdale’s expressive and detailed illustrations add depth to Waboose’s engaging text. His mixed-media paintings successfully blend the traditional and the modern, the comfortably familiar and the uncanny, to support the story’s themes.

An intergenerational tale that celebrates both a specific tradition and the universal curiosity of children . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-92708-311-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fifth House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

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. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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