FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

A visually striking, compelling recollection.

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

HUMMINGBIRD

A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

THE LITTLE BOOK OF JOY

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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