With this ode to music and mermaids, McShane deftly uses old stories to create a lyrical, satisfying new one. (author’s note)

A contemporary Irish seanchaí, or storyteller, uses a bit of historical text from 558 C.E.—the Annals of the Four Masters—to fashion a story about a wondrous creature from the sea.

In this story, Brother Declan finds an unconscious boy on the rugged shore of Belfast Lough near Bangor Abbey, an early monastic community in Ireland. When the kind monks treat Rónán, he tells them of his rescue from the sea by “the lady with the golden hair.” He explains that “she sang to me till we reached the shore,” gave him the silver ring he was found clutching, marked with an L, and “told me that one day I would help her.” As Rónán recovers, Brother Declan tells him ancient stories about selkies and singing mermaids, including Líban, who “roamed the lonesome seas” for three centuries. When the boy’s health is fully restored, he works alongside the monks, but he is enchanted by music. Wise Brother Declan makes him a harp, and Rónán becomes a musician. Fishing one day, he plays his harp, and “a lonesome song came in reply.” Líban surfaces and asks to be taken to the abbey, to be blessed by the abbot, who christens the mermaid Muirgen, “born of the sea.” The painterly illustrations, with their natural browns, greens, and blues, are somber but fit well with the traditional tone of the story. All characters appear to be white.

With this ode to music and mermaids, McShane deftly uses old stories to create a lyrical, satisfying new one. (author’s note)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0022-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022



A solid look at a history often untold.

Many consider World War I a European ordeal, but the young protagonist of this book keeps alive a memory of a deeper story.

At least 400,000 Muslims from India, among 2.5+ million Muslims total, were part of the Allied forces’ war effort as soldiers or laborers. The narrator’s great-grandpa was one of them. After a heartfelt goodbye to his family, he journeyed thousands of miles from India to Europe. So much was different from home, says the narrator, addressing their great-grandpa throughout. The child speaks of the halal meat he ate, how he served alongside other soldiers, many of whom looked different and spoke different languages, and how he kept on praying and fasting with his fellow Muslim soldiers. Throughout, the earth-toned illustrations show beige-uniformed, turbaned men sharing a meal, marching, and experiencing the terrible soundscape of war. The book offers an interesting, lesser-known narrative related to Muslim involvement in the Great War. However, some may feel that it misses an opportunity to engage with the topic of colonialism (given that India was under British rule until 1947) or that it romanticizes war somewhat. Overall, it will be accessible to readers less familiar with Islamic life and rituals as well as those with more background knowledge and who may appreciate some of the nuances in the storyline and illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A solid look at a history often untold. (glossary, list of facts, places to visit in the U.K.) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-86037-897-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kube Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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