A sentimental family story celebrating a close-knit community.

THE MITTEN STRING

Hand-knit mittens provide more than warmth.

In an idyllic Old World Jewish village, Ruthie’s family raises sheep and then processes, dyes and spins the wool. She uses the yarn to knit mittens for her neighbors. The family also sells their mittens at the town market. One day, they come across a mother and her baby on the road and in need of assistance, and they invite them to stay the night. Ruthie is amazed to learn that the woman, who is deaf, communicates by means of a chalk slate and sign language with the baby. To Ruthie, the hand movements are like “delicate strands of yarn.” In the nighttime, the mother also ties a string of yarn to connect her hand with that of the baby. Ruthie comes up with the idea of knitting mittens for mother and child with a connecting string—and then also knits sets of children’s mittens with a connecting strand to wear in a coat to keep the mittens from getting lost. Rosner’s tale, based on a family story, is sweetly nostalgic and filled with warm good feelings. The softly textured paintings and rounded images complement the mood and present a bygone time through softly tinted lenses.

A sentimental family story celebrating a close-knit community. (brief knitting glossary, brief sign language glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-37118-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Visually appealing but doesn’t capture the spirit of namaste.

NAMASTE IS A GREETING

What does it mean to say namaste?

This picture book attempts to explain this traditional, formal greeting used in South and Southeast Asia to welcome people and bid them farewell—in particular, as a way to show respect to elders. A child with dark hair, dark eyes, deep-brown skin, and a bindi on their forehead goes to a market with their caregiver and buys a potted plant to give their lonely, lighter-skinned neighbor. Vibrant, textured illustrations depict a blossoming friendship between the little one and the neighbor, while a series of statements describe what namaste means to the child. However, the disjointed text makes the concept difficult for young readers to grasp. Some statements describe namaste in its most literal sense (“Namaste is ‘I bow to you.’ " “Namaste is joining your palms together”), while others are more nebulous (“A yoga pose. A practice.” “Namaste calms your heart when things aren’t going right”). The lack of backmatter deprives readers of the cultural context and significance of this greeting as well as knowledge of the countries and cultures where it is used. Moreover, the book doesn’t convey the deep respect that this greeting communicates. The absence of culturally specific details and the framing of namaste as a concept that could apply to almost any situation ultimately obscure its meaning and use. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Visually appealing but doesn’t capture the spirit of namaste. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1783-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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