A paean to “shouting,” the holy dancing that occurs in some African-American churches, this evocative picture book pairs a free-form poem with double-page spreads in warm colors and soft textures. Those unfamiliar with the practice may be confused by Thomas’s text, which describes a woman’s religious fervor from her daughter’s point of view and then links shouting to traditional African dance as well as contemporary dance styles. Her author’s note, however, sheds light both on her childhood memories and her adult understanding of this cultural phenomenon. Lee’s paintings are somewhat stylized with limited details and old-fashioned costumes. Her decision to use faceless characters is another potentially puzzling element. However, this choice may allow readers familiar with the practice to see it in a more universal light. Whether enjoyed as a long-overdue validation of personal experience or appreciated as a glimpse into an unknown world, this portrait of an African-American tradition is likely to be warmly welcomed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7868-0664-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007


With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...

From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018


This biblical tale is filled with wonder, hope, and beauty.

Miriam is pivotal in the story of Moses and the Exodus.

A 7-year-old girl narrates the details of the day that she heeds “God’s voice,” places her baby brother in a basket, sets him adrift in the Nile River to save him from “Pharoah’s men,” and then watches as Pharoah’s daughter rescues him. That baby boy will grow up to be Moses, and his sister is the prophet Miriam. In her author’s note, Yolen explains that she has taken this story from Exodus and from the Midrash, tales that interpret the Torah. Miriam’s story is interwoven with miracles associated with water, ranging from that basket on the Nile to the parting of the Red Sea and the life-giving water flowing from a rock that sustains the Jews wandering in the desert, but there are relatively few children’s books that place her at their center. Many celebrants of the Passover Seder sing a song honoring Miriam and will welcome a book that celebrates her childhood. It is Le’s illustrations that truly shine, however. The vibrant blues and oranges reflect both calm and swirling waters dotted with a multitude of plant life. Elegant storks wade in the water as hippos and crocodiles swim nearby.

This biblical tale is filled with wonder, hope, and beauty. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4400-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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