An interesting take on biblical stories and autism stories that may struggle to find an audience.

THE WORLD NEEDS BEAUTIFUL THINGS

A young boy’s love for nature reminds the adults around him to appreciate the simpler things.

Bezalel is a collector. He is also one of Pharaoh’s slaves in ancient Egypt. He often stops his work to pick up stones, bugs’ fallen wings, and other things from nature that others see as trash. When the slaves are freed, Bezalel brings his Beautiful Things Box with him and continues to fill it as they journey away from Egypt. When the Israelites stop in the desert and God asks Moses to build a mishkan, it is Bezalel who has the objects and the eye for finding more that allow them to make God’s sanctuary on Earth beautiful. With the exception of spreads depicting the Israelites’ nighttime travel through the desert, illustrations are earth-toned, with immersive full-bleeds and occasional vignettes. Bezalel is almost always set off, as if to depict how different he is from others. Indeed, he could be interpreted as being on the autism spectrum, an interpretation also implied by the author’s note that children like Bezalel “look different or act differently from others.” Readers unfamiliar with the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt may find it difficult to understand the beginning of the story, as Bezalel and the other Jews toil, and those who are familiar with it may find the one-sentence announcement of freedom insufficiently attentive of the moment.

An interesting take on biblical stories and autism stories that may struggle to find an audience. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-4448-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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

MOMMY'S KHIMAR

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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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