A misguided effort in need of a more enlightening text and more polished illustrations.



A boy named Thomas wants to go to heaven.

Thomas is introduced obliquely as a child with special needs, as he appears to be about 8 but still plays with blocks and “loved to spin in wobbly circles for hours while reciting the alphabet.” When he appears at the dinner table with his packed suitcase, ready to go “to the Kingdom of Heaven,” he opens it to reveal food, clothing, and money for those in need as well as a variety of items (including a mustard seed and a trowel) that relate to several parables of Jesus from the Christian Bible. Unfortunately, the relevant parables are not explained in the text or referenced in a concluding note. Seeing the collection, Thomas’ father explains that he is “smack dab already in the Kingdom of Heaven” due to his “good and giving heart.” The family leaves their dinner at home and goes off to serve food and “tell the others,” perhaps at a church dinner or homeless mission, again not specified. The minimal text is insufficiently developed, demanding pre-existing understanding of the parables. Soft-focus illustrations in colored pencil and watercolor are inconsistent in portraying the ages of the characters, and the illustration of Thomas on the cover does not match those in the book. Thomas and his parents and older sister are white; his younger sister has Asian features. A final page for adults offers ways Christian families can assist others.

A misguided effort in need of a more enlightening text and more polished illustrations. (Picture book/religion. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61261-776-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paraclete Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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An Oglala Lakota, Montileaux first created the ledger-style paintings (flat, two-dimensional) in this offering for exhibit at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, S.D. The illustrations are characterized by clear vibrant colors and characters that are portrayed in dramatic poses and facial expressions. The exhibit committee selected the traditional text that accompanies the illustrations in this telling of how the Lakota People were tricked into leaving the Underworld through the Wind Cave to live on the surface of the earth. They became “the Ordinary,” or Lakota. Sensing that his people needed help to survive, the holy man, Tatanka, transformed himself into a buffalo and sacrificed his powers in order to provide food and warmth to the Lakota people. Both the English and the original Lakota words are used side-by-side on each page. A beautiful rendering of story and illustration that needs to be in every library interested in building the diversity of their collection. (Picture book/mythology. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2006

ISBN: 0-9749195-8-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: SDSHS Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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More problematic than problem-solving.


A discussion starter offering contrasting answers to the titular question.

Children are likely to find their thinking more muddled than clarified by this set of scenarios, as—whether due to poor phrasing in the original French or awkward translation—the alternatives are often inscrutable or nonsensical. The confusion begins with the title, which is transformed to “What Makes Us Happy?” on an inside gatefold. Either way, the question is addressed in a series of broadly brushed scenes featuring an array of familiar animals with human expressions acting in anti-social ways on the left and, beneath further gatefolds on the right, more cooperatively. Thus, to use one of the less-obscure examples, the alternatives “Keeping everything for yourself? // Or sharing what you have?” caption views of a duckling depicted first clutching a basket full of lollipops, then handing them out. At other times, though, readers are invited to decide between “Being better than others // Or doing well with others”; “Being protected from all dangers // Or daring to jump and have fun”; “Using something until there is no more” (a monkey gulping down a pile of bananas), or (said monkey training a garden hose on a few banana plants) “taking care of things so we can keep enjoying it” (sic).

More problematic than problem-solving. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62795-121-0

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Shelter Harbor Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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