BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS

Benno the cat has it pretty good, with a nice warm bed by the furnace of a Berlin apartment building, fresh milk every night, scraps from Shabbat dinners at the Adlers’ apartment and Sunday lunches with the Schmidts. Visiting Moshe’s butcher shop provides more nourishment, while the sunny window of Mitzi Stein’s fabric shop serves perfectly for afternoon naps. But one day things change, when men in brown shirts defile the neighborhood with a book-burning in the center of the street followed by the smashing of store windows, looting and destruction of certain apartments and stores. These terribly frightening events change not only Benno’s secure, happy cat existence but become known as Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Holocaust. Bisaillon’s combination of collage, drawings and digital montage create a Cubist backdrop for this darkly portrayed story told with minimal details that keep strictly to the cat’s level of understanding—it’s up to readers and their grown-ups to fill in the gaps, aided by an afterword and bibliography that provide background to the topic and grist for discussion. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8225-9929-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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THE NIGHT OF LAS POSADAS

A wondrous occurrence, an ancient tradition, and an elderly nun’s abiding faith are the basis of this moving Chirstmas tale from dePaola (26 Fairmount Avenue, p. 629, etc.). Sister Angie is overjoyed when her niece Lupe and her husband are selected to play Mary and Joseph—here, Maria and José—for Las Posadas, the reenactment of the journey into Bethlehem. When Sister Angie becomes ill and Lupe and Roberto become stranded in a heavy snowstorm, it seems as if the celebration will be delayed. However, a couple arrives just in time to take the place of the missing players. The whole village participates in the procession, from the singers who follow Mary and Joseph, to the “devils” who attempt to prevent the weary travelers from finding lodging. After several rebuffs, the couple arrives at the gates of the courtyard; these open and the entire assembly enters to celebrate. When Lupe and Roberto finally show up, the other couple is nowhere to be found. The story takes a supernatural twist when Sister Angie discovers that the figures in the church’s manger scene have come to life, temporarily, for the procession. The mysteries and miracles of the season are kept at bay; this simple narrative spells everything out, resulting in a primer on the tradition. Richly hued, luminescent illustrations radiate from the pages; an introduction and author’s note provide additional information. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23400-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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A glorious choice for reading aloud.

NOAH'S ARK

Pinkney, at his grandest, matches a poetically phrased text—the Ark “rose over their heads. It rose over the treetops. The strong wooden beams embraced the clouds”—with sweeping spreads of dappled paintings that capture brilliantly the hugeness of the Ark a-building, the wonder of so many creatures gathering peaceably to crowd aboard, and the closing glory of a planet festooned with rainbows as signs of God’s promise to the Charlton Heston–like Noah.

Of the making of Noahs there seems to be no end, but while other recent versions of the tale put Noah’s family on center stage, or feature realistically depicted animals or humorous touches, this brings out the vast scale of the flood: “The water rose over cities and towns. Whales swam down ruined streets. Schools of fish darted through empty windows.” But turn the page and there inside “everyone was safe.” Filling his pages with lovely earth tones, Pinkney’s occasional use of color stands out all the more: a baboon’s multicolored nose, a bright blue robe, a bright red apple, or a bird’s brilliant plumage. And then there’s all that water.

A glorious choice for reading aloud. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 978-1-58717-201-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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