WILD CHILD

The change of seasons from fall to winter makes a captivating bedtime story as Mother Nature tries to tuck in her wild child, Autumn. This child will do anything to stay up; when she complains that she needs a song, her mother provides one that includes acorns splattering, leaves crinkling, and birds twittering. Next the child needs a treat, and after she has munched on a bounty of cranberries, nuts, and pumpkins, she has to change into her pajamas. These nightclothes are the flame colors of autumn leaves with orange slippers to match. Before she can really fall asleep, the child demands a goodnight kiss. This “frosty kiss” is necessarily cold and frozen, foreshadowing the next season, but to readers, the effect of such a somber kiss from mother to child is chilling, or at least less than comforting. Finally the child yawns and curls up to sleep, but the mother will not be resting, for another child, Winter, arrives and “can’t sleep.” Couch’s absorbing illustrations match the allegorical aspect of the poetic text, and both transport readers with images of unusual clarity and depth. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81552-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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RIVER

In a series of folk-art paintings, Atwell (Barn, 1996) charts an American river’s decline from unspoiled to trash-strewn, then its recovery due to the efforts of concerned people. Although readers may be thrown by the brief text’s vagueness (“They changed the warehouses. They tore down some of the factories. They planted trees. They wanted to share”), the message comes through clearly in the striking riverine scenes, as bright skies and blue waters change to lowering clouds and gray dinginess, then back to idealized views of grassy approaches and families at play. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-93546-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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CAT AND MOUSE IN THE SNOW

In this picture book adventure of a now-familiar duo (Cat and Mouse and Something to Do, 1998, etc.), Bogacki describes how the curious cat and the curious mouse explore the green meadow turned white with snow. The two friends climb up the hill, then slide down, down, down. Meanwhile the other mice and cats wake up and go outside to find their siblings. They come upon the two friends covered in white snow and mistake them for monsters. Shrieks turn to delight, and everyone has a great time playing in the snow. When night comes they return to their respective homes to dream of snow. The soft chalk illustrations in grey, tan, and white on blue paper show flat stylized animals in a snowy world. Children will enjoy the brief repetitive text; adults will be glad to have an appealing alternative to Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-31192-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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