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KALI'S SONG by Jeanette Winter Kirkus Star

KALI'S SONG

By Jeanette Winter (Author) , Jeanette Winter (Illustrator)

Age Range: 2 - 6

Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-87022-4
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Thousands of years ago, a boy chooses to use his bow for music rather than hunting, charming animals and eventually his tribe with hypnotic song.

Winter’s friendly folk-art illustrations offer an appealingly uncomplicated visual narrative, one as effortlessly expressive as the cave paintings Kali’s mother creates on their rock walls. Trees, hunters, rolling hills and woolly mammoths appear with such unaffected clarity (thanks to generous spacing between shapes, figures and text) that they seem as authentic as realistic renderings. Children gain confidence interpreting pages so assuredly illustrated, and their feeling for Kali will grow as his life comes into focus. Winter’s rudimentary acrylic, pen and ink illustrations look a little like elementary-school dioramas (evergreens perch awkwardly on hillsides, frozen figures point with stubby fingers and mouths open, miniaturized hunting scenes seem almost silly), but her pictures (atop frayed, mottled handmade papers) brilliantly evoke primitive times. Each spread’s warmth, accessibility and kindliness make visiting a far-away century immensely pleasurable. Muted blues, browns and ruddy reds soften Kali’s world of hunting, caves and manly expectations, bringing him close to children as they lean close to listen. After weeks of ditching hunting practice and instead playing his bow until stars “c[o]me close to listen,” the day of the big hunt worries Kali and his readers alike. When his music stills both mammoths and their hunters, Kali's future changes forever.

Minimalism brilliantly brings a distant time near. (Picture book. 2-6)