TONIO'S CAT

Calhoun (Henry the Sailor Cat, 1994, etc.) writes about Tonio, from Mexico, who is new at school and new in California. Hanging around the school one day, he befriends a stray cat. Little by little—giving him a piece of sausage, helping him catch a mouse- -Tonio wins his trust and makes his first friend. As a result, he gets to know a couple of his classmates as well. The story ends with a dramatic twist in which Tonio finds the cat caught in a cage and sets him free. This short tale about the immigrant experience has emotional subtlety, and readers will empathize with Tonio as they watch him gradually embrace his fragile new life. Its low-key style combines a clean and easy syntax with a rich assortment of adjectives and a sizable Spanish vocabulary: a dinner-table conversation takes place in Spanish, in which every phrase is unobtrusively translated in the third-person narration. The large paintings, in a palette of understated grays and greens, are filled with Mexican faces. What these illustrations capture best is not any individual personality but a general mood: The way things look to the slightly melancholy, no longer completely miserable, new kid in school. The lunchroom scenes are particularly evocative. (Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-688-13314-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ELIZABETI'S DOLL

Charmed by her new baby brother, Elizabeti decides that she wants a baby of her own; she picks up a smooth rock, names it Eva and washes, feeds, and changes her, and carries her about in her cloth kanga. Hale dresses Elizabeti and her family in modern, brightly patterned clothing that practically glows against the earth-toned, sketchily defined Tanzanian village in which this is set. Although Eva appears a bit too large for Elizabeti to handle as easily as she does, the illustrations reflect the story’s simplicity; accompanied by an attentive hen, Elizabeti follows her indulgent mother about, mimicking each nurturing activity. The object of Elizabeti’s affection may be peculiar, but the love itself is real. Later, she rescues Eva from the fire pit, tenderly cleans her, then cradles the stone until she—Elizabeti—falls asleep. Stuve-Bodeen’s debut is quirky but believable, lightly dusted with cultural detail, and features universal emotions in an unusual setting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-880000-70-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more