Meditative, musical, magical, mysterious.

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THE COAT

A slightly magical, wholly satisfying fable, visually rich and verbally open-ended, originally published in Australia.

A coat, stuffed with straw and inhabited by the small creatures of the field, inveighs against its useless fate as a scarecrow. But a man comes along, a disappointed man. He sees the coat and figures it has a lot of wear yet in it, so he shakes out the straw and the mice and puts it on, though it is far too large. The coat speaks to him and carries itself and the man to the Cafe Delitzia. There, he is welcomed, fed and asked to perform, although he thinks he cannot. But the coat knows, and it plays the accordion with such expertise that the crowd is enchanted. At the end of the night, the coat fits him perfectly, and off the man and the coat go. Brooks’ fine illustrations fit the pattern of the words perfectly. The images in the field start in dull sepia tones, and the coat actually looks pretty bedraggled, but by the time the man reaches the Cafe Delitzia, it begins to glow; as it plays and he sings, the pictures become more colorful. The typeface emulates handwritten script, complementing the illustrations’ line but occasionally becoming hard to read.

Meditative, musical, magical, mysterious. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-74114-605-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Readers seeking a genuine refugee voice will be disappointed.

THE REFUGE

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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A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.

THE LOST STONE

From the The Kingdom of Wrenly series , Vol. 1

A lonely prince gains a friend for a quest to find a missing jewel.

Prince Lucas of Wrenly has everything a boy could possibly want—except a friend. His father has forbidden him to play with the village children for reasons of propriety. Adventure-seeking Lucas acquires peasant clothes to masquerade as a commoner and make friends, but he is caught out. His mother, the queen, persuades the king to allow him one friend: Clara, the daughter of her personal dressmaker. When the queen’s prized emerald pendant goes missing, Lucas and Clara set off to find it. They follow the jewel as it changes hands, interviewing each temporary owner. Their adventure cleverly introduces the series’ world and peoples, taking the children to the fairy island of Primlox, the trolls’ home of Burth, the wizard island of Hobsgrove and finally Mermaid’s Cove. By befriending the mermaids, Lucas and Clara finally recover the jewel. In thanks, the king gives Clara a horse of her own so that she may ride with Lucas on their future adventures. The third-person narration is generally unobtrusive, allowing the characters to take center stage. The charming, medieval-flavored illustrations set the fairy-tale scene and take up enough page space that new and reluctant readers won’t be overwhelmed by text.

 A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9691-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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