An easy, enjoyable way to start thinking about similarities and differences around the world.

BIRTHDAYS AROUND THE WORLD

Many American children know about piñatas at birthday celebrations, and almost all of them know about blowing out candles, but do they know that dumping flour on the birthday child is a tradition in Jamaica?

Each of the 14 double-page spreads in this informational roundup is devoted to a different country, among them Peru, Latvia, Lesotho, Cambodia, and Australia. The birthday child or a sibling describes the celebratory customs for an individual birthday or other special occasions such as Shichi-Go-San in Japan, when specific age groups (3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds) are honored. In Lesotho, where the idea of celebrating individual birthdays is not widespread, a boy describes the festivities that take place on July 17, when “our entire country celebrates the birthday of our beloved King!!” Hindu birthday celebrations in India start with a religious ceremony and continue with school parties. Klingeris, a sweet, pretzel-shaped bread, is prepared in Latvia, and the birthday child is lifted on a flower-bedecked chair. The short, simple explanations are accompanied by cheerful, stylized illustrations created with cut-paper collages and Photoshop. “Happy Birthday” in each language (in Latin script) appears in each section, with pronunciation and the original script in the glossary. The concluding guide to extension activities mentions that links to birthday-song videos from around the world are provided on the author’s website.

An easy, enjoyable way to start thinking about similarities and differences around the world. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-624-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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