Creative teachers, librarians and parents will be able to use this book to start a number of different conversations, but...

WHAT WE WEAR

DRESSING UP AROUND THE WORLD

By focusing this visually stunning book on “dressing up” rather than on the broader topic of clothing, the authors enjoy the freedom of selecting striking photographs of children dressed in traditional clothing, theatrical costumes and masks and school and sports uniforms.

Engaging, sharp photos, including a Chinese boy dressed as an emperor on the cover, young Nepalese Buddhist monks, a Japanese girl dressed in a beautiful kimono and Israeli Hasidic boys inexplicably wearing red fezzes, appear on boldly colored backgrounds. The lack of contextualizing material begs questions: Are the Israeli boys dressed up for Purim, a Jewish holiday when everyone wears costumes? The Japanese girl is probably dressed for Shichi-go-san, a holiday when 3- and 7-year-old Japanese girls and 5-year-old Japanese boys dress in traditional clothing, but the text (limited to very general short sentences such as: “Around the world, we dress up to have fun! We dance and play…” and “Dressing up means celebrating who we are…”) doesn’t reveal any supporting information. Country names appear on the photos, and there is a world map. The backmatter suggests going to folk festivals and museums, questioning adults about clothing and culture and making simple costumes and masks. 

Creative teachers, librarians and parents will be able to use this book to start a number of different conversations, but descriptions of the clothing and their special meanings (if only for adult users) would greatly increase this book’s value. (Informational photo essay. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-416-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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A beautifully illustrated Afrocentric story that inspires as it informs.

SMILE WITH AFRICAN STYLE

From the Macy's World series

Macy proposes to celebrate African heritage in a very visible way.

A little brown-skinned Black girl with two Afro puffs, Macy greets her teacher, Miss Brown, and compliments her dress. Miss Brown, who is also Black, identifies the fabric as typical of West Africa. When Macy suggests that her classmates each wear an outfit from a different African country, Miss Brown loves the idea. The following week, Miss Brown points to Kenya on an African map as Naomi models a Kenyan Masai dress made with red shuka cloth and colorful beaded necklaces. Macy’s classmates wear Ghanaian Ashanti kente cloth; Angolan, Namibian and Ethiopian garb; a Nigerian ceremonial outfit, the agbada; a Rwandan Tutsi warrior’s clothing; and a Cameroonian elephant mask with matching outfit. Macy arrives late with a special surprise that makes everyone smile. Freeman’s colorful, detailed illustrations represent children with different hairstyles and skin tones, including one with albinism. A richer story would have given the children personal connections with the countries they represent. But even lacking that, this wonderful display of traditional clothing encourages readers to appreciate diversity within Africa and will spark interest in learning about the origins of these beautiful, colorful fabrics and the people who wear them, since clothing expresses culture in so many ways. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully illustrated Afrocentric story that inspires as it informs. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-913175-18-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Trite text and overworked art detract from an interesting concept.

FULL MOON LORE

Each month of the year is represented by a full moon, one of its nicknames in the Northern Hemisphere, and some notes about seasonal changes during that month.

“Let me tell you a story about the moon. That bright, round moon up there is called a Full Moon….People long ago kept track of the seasons by giving each full moon a special name.” A man with light-brown skin sits with a small, dark-haired, even lighter-skinned girl in his lap, open book before them. Behind them, a stylized version of a moonlit night sets the stage for more pages of full moons. The illustrations use strong, dark lines filled in with high-contrast blocks of color. A cursory glance invites a second look; a second look brings a discomfiting sense of the uncanny, as animals, plants, and humans are generally depicted in that nether world between realism and fantasy. A double-page spread of children gathering berries by moonlight is particularly eerie. The text is also a garbled mix of poetic imagery and snippets of natural science: “Thunder and lightning storms roll through the plains, providing strength for the farmer’s crops to grow.” What does that mean? Most pages keep the full moon gender-free, but it is given a male pronoun during April—as is November’s hardworking beaver. Most problematic of all is that there is no information about the “people long ago” or the culture or cultures from which these various names originated.

Trite text and overworked art detract from an interesting concept. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-965-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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