THE FRIENDSHIP

Cassie Logan, of the author's Newbery-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, narrates events leading up to a tragic climax on a hot summer Mississippi afternoon in 1933. On an errand to a country store they usually avoid because they know the proprietors are dangerously unfriendly to blacks, the four Logan children are hassled by storekeepers Thurston and Dewberry Wallace, who taunt six-year, old Little-Man for his color, threatening to chop off his hands because they look dirty. The children quickly back away, though they don't take the threat at face value. But when Old Mr. Tom Bee comes by the store and persists in his habit of calling John Wallace by his first name, the threat becomes real. The familiarity is forbidden by custom, but promised in perpetuity by John, whose life Tom saved more than once, with kindness as well as heroism. But the presence of his sons and an unfriendly group of customers forces John to renege on his promise in a harrowing, bitter climax. From its quiet beginning, the tension grows relentlessly in this brief, carefully designed story. The hint of a possible friendship between white Jeremy Simms and the eldest Logan, Stacey; the fine, sturdy character of the Logans; and the indomitable courage of Tom Bee when he decides the time has come to stand up for a principle are the only notes of hope in the somber events. Ginsburg's black-and-white drawings are outstanding, his solid figures masterfully staged to convey the taut drama.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1987

ISBN: 0803704178

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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