A lovely, moving tale of stolen freedom and hopes for a new beginning.

RAQUELA'S SEDER

Raquela’s family, Jews in the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella, must practice their religion in secret or face dire consequences.

On Friday nights, the family goes to the cellar to light candles for Shabbat. Raquela has heard of Passover and dreams of having a seder. Papa is a successful fisherman and describes his work to Raquela. When telling her that to catch a fish, one must be smarter than one and that to be smarter than a fish, one must think like one, he realizes he has the ability to give his family a seder in the open air. Mama bakes matzah, and the family gathers such things as nuts, spices, a wine goblet, and a tablecloth. Raquela and Mama quietly go to the shore, where Papa is waiting in his boat. They sail out to Papa’s secret fishing spot and have their seder as Papa explains the symbolic foods and tells the Passover story of how the Jews attained their freedom. Stein combines the stories of the two historic eras with simple, descriptive language, infusing the tale with hope and conveying an underlying sadness and fear as Raquela and her family yearn to live openly as Jews. Ugolotti’s beautifully rendered illustrations perfectly capture the time and place and tenderly portray the characters’ deepest feelings. The characters have brown skin and eyes and dark hair.

A lovely, moving tale of stolen freedom and hopes for a new beginning. (historical notes) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72842-429-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space.

CAVE PAINTINGS

A trip to grandmother’s launches light-years beyond the routine sort, as a human child travels from deep space to Earth.

The light-skinned, redheaded narrator journeys alone as flight attendants supply snacks to diverse, interspecies passengers. The kid muses, “Sometimes they ask me, ‘Why are you always going to the farthest planet?’ ”The response comes after the traveler hurtles through the solar system, lands, and levitates up to the platform where a welcoming grandmother waits: “Because it’s worth it / to cross one universe / to explore another.” Indeed, child and grandmother enter an egg-shaped, clear-domed orb and fly over a teeming savanna and a towering waterfall before disembarking, donning headlamps, and entering a cave. Inside, the pair marvel at a human handprint and ancient paintings of animals including horses, bison, and horned rhinoceroses. Yockteng’s skilled, vigorously shaded pictures suggest references to images found in Lascaux and Chauvet Cave in France. As the holiday winds down, grandmother gives the protagonist some colored pencils that had belonged to grandfather generations back. (She appears to chuckle over a nude portrait of her younger self.) The pencils “were good for making marks on paper. She gave me that too.” The child draws during the return trip, documenting the visit and sights along the journey home. “Because what I could see was infinity.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-172-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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