SOSU’S CALL

Originally published in 1997 in Ghana, this well-meaning but predictable story concerns a disabled boy who saves his village during a great storm by crawling to find a talking drum that will call the villagers back from the fields. Sosu’s life is circumscribed by his lack of a wheelchair, which a grateful town finally secures for him as a reward for his brave actions. It is also limited because of traditional attitudes toward the disabled. Some people feel that he will bring bad luck to the local fishing industry or are terrified of his appearance. The sketchy, somber watercolors relying on a brown and tan palette brighten at the end as Sosu’s life changes with his newly found mobility and acceptance by his neighbors. Set in a nameless West African village, this purposeful picture book may encourage discussion about living conditions for disabled children in countries around the world, but it has little appeal for the young recreational reader. Nonetheless, due to its universally important theme, the book is the winner of the 1999 UNESCO Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance and a 2001 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-929132-21-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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KEENA FORD AND THE FIELD TRIP MIX-UP

Keena Ford’s second-grade class is taking a field trip to the United States Capitol. This good-hearted girl works hard to behave, but her impulsive decisions have a way of backfiring, no matter how hard she tries to do the right thing. In this second book in a series, Keena cuts off one of her braids and later causes a congressman to fall down the stairs. The first-person journal format is a stretch—most second graders can barely write, let alone tell every detail of three days of her life. Children will wonder how Keena can cut one of her “two thick braids” all the way off by pretend-snipping in the air. They will be further confused because the cover art clearly shows Keena with a completely different hairdo on the field trip than the one described. Though a strong African-American heroine is most welcome in chapter books and Keena and her family are likable and realistic, this series needs more polish before Keena writes about her next month in school. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3264-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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THE DOG THAT DUG FOR DINOSAURS

This easy reader for children reading at the fluency level recounts the story of a girl named Mary Ann Anning and her dog, Tray. They lived on the coast of England in the early 1800s, although the time frame is given only as “a long, long time ago.” Mary Ann and Tray became famous for their discoveries of fossils, including dinosaur bones. They discovered the first pterodactyl found in England, and the name was assigned to their fossil. The story focuses a little too much on the dog, and the title misses a great opportunity to completely acknowledge a girl accomplishing something important in the scientific world, especially in a much earlier era and without formal training or education. Despite this drawback, both Mary Ann and Tray are appealing characters and the discovery of the fossils and subsequent notice from scientists, collectors, and even royalty is appealing and well written. Sullivan’s illustrations provide intriguing period details in costumes, tools, and buildings, as well as a clever front endpaper of fossil-strewn ground covered with muddy paw prints. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85708-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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