MY PAINTED HOUSE, MY FRIENDLY CHICKEN, AND ME

A beguiling collaboration between the renowned poet (All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, 1986, etc.) and a Namibian-born photojournalist. Thandi, an eight-year-old Ndebele girl from a South African village, is first glimpsed in European school clothes but talks mostly about her traditional culture, in which "people do not call anything beautiful. They will say that the best thing is good." She tells how their intricately patterned houses are painted and describes her mother's beadwork, focusing on the contrast between these arts and the sober modern world of town and school. Thandi's sunny, childlike voice is gracefully honed and has delightful touches of humor, especially about her "best friend," a chicken: "When I tell my friend secrets, she can talk all she wants...but no one can understand her...except another chicken, of course" (ellipses in original). In the expertly composed color photos, Thandi and the other children glow with mischief, laugh out loud, or "just sit back deep inside themselves"; the crafts are also handsomely displayed. The design here (by Alexander Isley Design) is inspired, setting off words and photos to perfection. Vibrant color blocks and pages echo hues in the photos and contrast with white pages. Spacing and different sizes of sans-serif type enhance the cadence and emphasis of the first-person narrative. A fine introduction to these young South Africans. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1994

ISBN: 0-517-59667-9

Page Count: 34

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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