THEIR GREAT GIFT

COURAGE, SACRIFICE, AND HOPE IN A NEW LAND

A heartfelt reminder of a significant American ideal.

Cleareyed photography illustrates the modern experience of immigrating to the United States.

The simple opening words are immediately familiar. “My family came here from far away….” American children have long heard the stories of how their strong and courageous forebears built this country. Most immigration stories for the young, however, are told from a single point of view. Author Coy and photographer Huie have taken the opposite approach. Faces of many ethnic backgrounds grace the moving yet everyday images that fill the pages. Asian, African, and Latino people are shown living their lives in their new land, playing, eating, working, and being themselves. Young Asian Boy Scouts stand next to the American flag. An older woman in a headscarf studies for a test. A tall black girl stands on a track surrounded by her blond classmates. Visually, their different-ness is apparent. Yet the words are universal. “They worked long, hard hours, at difficult jobs….They saved and did without and sent money back.” The result joins the intimate, individual family stories to the universal immigration experience with a love for freedom and the responsibility that it requires. The last question pulls readers back to the present: “What will we do with THEIR GREAT GIFT?” Both author and photographer include their own family arrival stories in the endnotes.

A heartfelt reminder of a significant American ideal. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-8054-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

JUST BECAUSE

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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