A NAME ON THE QUILT

A family gathers to remember one of their own: a brother, an uncle, a mate, a son. Uncle Ron has died of AIDS (obviously, though it is never spelled out), and his mother, brother and sister-in-law, niece and nephew, and companion are sewing a panel for the great national memorial quilt. Lauren, the niece, narrates as the assembled recall Ron fondly while they pick and choose various items to sew on the panel. The sting of his death is particularly acute for Lauren; her uncle treated her as an adult, but knew how to throw his great protective arms around her—he was her teacher and her friend. Heartache a mile wide runs through this story, named in Lauren, hinted at in the brother, forceful in an old companion, and most apparent in Lauren’s grandmother, with clues that she will have to suffer alone (“Grandpa hadn’t come after Uncle Ron’s memorial service either,” and “ ‘Grandpa says he doesn’t know how to sew,’ “). The ending—the somber mood dissolves as everyone dances—feels contrived, but that doesn’t negate the value of this book, which allows readers to explore, as they so choose or not, related issues. In his first picture book, Hills’s soft-focus artwork serves mostly as a buffer to all the sharp emotions of the text. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81592-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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WAITING FOR BABY

One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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