Gentle and only slightly didactic, it makes not only an attractive intergenerational story but shows how much work and...



The men of Indian Island, Maine, make baskets—but young Kunu wants to do it right now by himself.

Kunu finds that basket-weaving is not so easy as it looks, but he rejects his father’s offers of help. His grandfather, Muhmum, who lives next door, finds ways of gently walking Kunu through the steps, one at a time. Muhmum reminds Kunu that his own first basket took seven tries, as Kunu becomes increasingly frustrated. But slowly he learns how to pound the ash into strips, weave the bottom around a block of wood, work the strips and finish the rim. Muhmum puts cloth straps from his own basket on Kunu’s first effort so he can carry his first pack basket himself. The softly colored and soft-edged pictures display many things about Kunu’s home and family: maps of Maine on the wall, a couple of cats, his mother, father and younger brother, his grandfather’s wall of tools. In each corner of many of the double-page spreads are smaller insert images of types of woven baskets. On the left-hand page, there’s a basket in a stand of fiddlehead ferns, on a clam flat or in a strawberry patch; on the facing page, the basket is full to the brim, often with a local creature like a sandpiper or a fox gazing appreciatively at the bounty. A few Penobscot words are used in the text, and their meanings are fairly clear in context.

Gentle and only slightly didactic, it makes not only an attractive intergenerational story but shows how much work and patience go into one of those beautiful baskets, a number of which are illustrated on the last page. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-88448-330-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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