WHY DID IT HAPPEN?

HELPING CHILDREN COPE IN A VIOLENT WORLD

This earnest story by the psychotherapist who wrote I Had a Friend Named Peter: Talking to Children About the Death of a Friend (1987) is not really about why Daniel's friend Mr. James gets a broken arm when his store is robbed. Although Daniel's father offers some generalized answers (e.g., ``Some people have a special kind of problem that makes it hard for them to know right from wrong''), the question is more a classic cry against injustice. It's about the feelings aroused in a child when violence touches someone close and how they can best be addressed. Daniel's parents find out the real facts, encourage verbal and nonverbal expression of his feelings, and provide a punching ball for him to vent his anger; when he dramatizes capturing the robber, he's encouraged to find an alternative to guns, even in play; when Daniel is reluctant to return to the store, Mr. James reassures him with a home visit; and so on. The thorough explication, extended even further in a sensible five- page introduction, is heavy-handed for a story, but Cohn carries it off in a smooth telling that's nicely enhanced by empathetic full-bleed art rendered in warm, rather sober hues. For a more imaginative (yet equally serious) treatment of the impact of violence on children, see Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (p. 300). (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-12312-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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