DePaola’s inexhaustible wellspring of creativity is never more evident than in ecclesiastical subjects, and in this biography of the twin saints, Benedict and Scholastica, he has outdone himself. Luminous color and suppleness of line shape the narrative, whose progression can be traced along the borders and through the central panels as in illuminated manuscripts. Norris, who has written with intelligence and discernment about spirituality for adults, fares a little less well in writing for children. Overlong sentences sometimes impede the flow in reading aloud; too much information occasionally clogs the story. And it’s a wonderful story—of twin siblings growing up in the hills of Umbria, of a young man disillusioned by study in the city of Rome, seeking first to serve God by living alone and then to serve further by creating a rule under which those who chose could live together in God’s service. Scholastica stayed at the convent where she was educated, and among other tales, Norris relates the one where she kept her brother visiting through the night, despite his protestations, because she knew it was the last time she would see him. An author’s note explains the history of the Rule of St. Benedict, which is still followed today. There’s always a place for dePaola’s work; older children, or those intent on connecting the words to the beautiful pictures, will find their attention amply repaid. (Biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23424-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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A glorious choice for reading aloud.


Pinkney, at his grandest, matches a poetically phrased text—the Ark “rose over their heads. It rose over the treetops. The strong wooden beams embraced the clouds”—with sweeping spreads of dappled paintings that capture brilliantly the hugeness of the Ark a-building, the wonder of so many creatures gathering peaceably to crowd aboard, and the closing glory of a planet festooned with rainbows as signs of God’s promise to the Charlton Heston–like Noah.

Of the making of Noahs there seems to be no end, but while other recent versions of the tale put Noah’s family on center stage, or feature realistically depicted animals or humorous touches, this brings out the vast scale of the flood: “The water rose over cities and towns. Whales swam down ruined streets. Schools of fish darted through empty windows.” But turn the page and there inside “everyone was safe.” Filling his pages with lovely earth tones, Pinkney’s occasional use of color stands out all the more: a baboon’s multicolored nose, a bright blue robe, a bright red apple, or a bird’s brilliant plumage. And then there’s all that water.

A glorious choice for reading aloud. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 978-1-58717-201-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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Based on the life of a 19th-century Jewish man who became Pueblo governor, a sweet celebration of diverse heritage.


Thirteen-year-old Elan learns about his dual Jewish and Pueblo Indian heritage on a trip from San Francisco to New Mexico where he will read from the Torah and participate in a traditional Pueblo ceremony of becoming a man.

In 1898, Elan feels fortunate and special to have a Jewish father and a mother of Pueblo descent. While his family reviews the story of their mixed backgrounds, similarities between the two cultures become apparent. The transition from childhood to adult is respectfully addressed through Elan’s two coming-of-age ceremonies, witnessed by both families. For his bar mitzvah Torah reading, Elan proudly accepts a special tallit woven by his mother with symbols of the Star of David, the Ten Commandments, a stalk of corn and an oak tree. His parents remind Elan that he is the son of two proud nations, as his name means “oak tree” in Hebrew and “friendly” in the language of his mother’s people, the Acoma Pueblo. With his father, cousin Manolo and the other men of the community, Elan is welcomed into the Acoma tribe with rituals in the kiva (appropriately not depicted). Gouache scenes in soft, earthy tones gently depict the journey.

Based on the life of a 19th-century Jewish man who became Pueblo governor, a sweet celebration of diverse heritage. (historical note, glossary) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9051-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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