In this moving tale from Mayer, an emperor chooses to isolate his daughter Shibumi from the squalor of the city by walling her in his palace and gardens. Inevitably, Shibumi peeks over the wall, and is horrified by the poverty she sees. She convinces a kitemaker to build a kite big enough to lift her, and then fly it and her into the air, threatening her father that she won’t come down until he cleans up the city. When her father tries to have the kitemaker killed, the winds sweep both Shibumi and the kitemaker far away. Time passes, the emperor repents and cleans up his city, but war and old age sneak up on him. He longs for the return of his daughter, and doesn’t know that a young samurai is about to make his wish come true. Mayer’s lush illustrations—computer-generated collages of paintings, fabrics, and photographs’share in the narration of the story, e.g., readers, with the emperor, see both the shadow of the kite returning with Shibumi and the samaurai, and its reflection in a nearby pond, but not the kite itself. Such visual nuances heighten the suspense of the storytelling and add a level of sophistication rare for a picture book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7614-5054-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999



There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999



PLB 0-517-70967-8 Me And My Family Tree (32 pp.; $13.00; PLB $14.99; May; 0-517-70966-X; PLB 0-517-70967-8): For children who are naturally curious about the people who care for them (most make inquiries into family relationships at an early age), Sweeney explains, with the assistance of a young narrator, the concept of a family tree. Photographs become understandable once the young girl learns the relationships among family members; she wonders what her own family tree will look like when she marries and has children. A larger message comes at the end of this story: not only does she have a family tree, but so does everyone in the world. Cable’s drawings clearly define the process of creating a family tree; she provides a blank tree so children can start on their own geneaology.(Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-517-70966-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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