A girl addresses the reader calmly: “A year ago I began to notice that my sight was slipping away.” But today she walks out to the subway under a bright yellow umbrella, wearing large round sunglasses. “There are some things I need to find.” When she goes down the subway stairs, a humongous rabbit, like an anime creature, peers from behind the latticework. She gets off at a station, climbing up the long stairs “as slowly as an elephant.” Readers see a procession of the beasts in brightly patterned shirts climbing before her. At another station she wonders, if she steps out, will she be in the ocean with the dolphins? And if she steps off into the air, would the air hold her, as it teaches the birds to fly? The illustrations are really wonderful, full of imagination and glow, turning what this blind child sees in her mind’s eye into visions. Left unfinished, her journey offers a hint of what it must mean to cope with the darkness. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-93992-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A retelling based on three of the ``half a dozen'' Korean Cinderella variants: ``Pear Blossom's'' stepmother calls her ``Little Pig,'' barely feeds her, and assigns her impossible tasks (filling a cracked jug), but the girl is helped by magical animals (a giant ox that weeds a rice paddy for her). A young magistrate, ``struck by her beauty,'' identifies her at a village festival by her lost sandal, and thus she makes an honorable marriage. The simple tale is retold in a vigorous, rather dramatic style. Heller, whose illustrations are based on her research in Korea, offers bold montages of figures and patterns in a striking array of intense colors. Her facial expressions are less expertly crafted than her realistic animals, sculptural draperies, and decorative traditional motifs, while the mix of styles leads to some cluttered effects; still, an attractive setting for a worthy variant. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-020432-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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Readers seeking a genuine refugee voice will be disappointed.


Iliana, the new girl at school, looks at the sky all the time and draws meteors and planets, but she does not smile much and cries sometimes.

Jeannette’s mother encourages her to become friends with Iliana. Jeannette learns that Iliana crossed the sea on a small crowded boat to escape war; that she was cold and hungry; and that her mother comforted her with the idea of looking at the sky, which belongs to everybody. After Jeannette reports this, her mom suggests that she invite Iliana’s family over, where they share more about their frightful displacement story, summarized in the third-person narration. During the visit, Jeannette shows Iliana her telescope, and they gaze up at the sky and clouds, paving the way for a firmer friendship. The story strives to portray refugees as people, giving its characters identifiable names, hobbies, fears, professional lives, and ambitions. However, it grossly fails at doing so by silencing Iliana’s and her family’s voices, instead representing their narratives solely through conversation between Jeannette and her mother or in summary despite their clear ability to communicate with Jeannette and her family. While the stylized illustrations are whimsical and engaging, often thematically speaking to children’s interest in outer space, readers looking for resettled refugees with narrative agency will likely be disheartened.

Readers seeking a genuine refugee voice will be disappointed. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2050-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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