A tender demonstration of how familial love is like translation—inexact, difficult, and beautiful.

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THE SOUND OF ALL THINGS

Uhlberg draws from his experiences with his deaf parents for this tale of mid-20th-century Brooklyn.

"Many things are loud. Please tell me better," the narrator’s father asks. Thus the son of deaf parents finds himself interpreting not only language, but sound itself. His father, who retains faint memories of hearing, insists that his son’s descriptions enable him to hear "in [his] mind." But expressing something as abstract as sound is daunting for a child, as an outing to bustling Coney Island illustrates. Papoulas' vivid paintings animate the setting and sentiment with photographic attention to faces and period details, silently evoking a din of everyday noises that seems impossible to convey. The narrator's frustration evokes sympathy, his squinting concentration palpable as he signs the woefully inadequate "loud." Despite his frequent use of figurative language—a roller coaster is "like thunder," and ocean waves crash "like a hammer"—he still doesn't have enough words. Finally, he asks a resourceful librarian for books on how to describe sound, and she returns with a promising volume of poetry. The narrator deftly and respectfully describes his conflicting feelings of love and resentment, sometimes envying other children who don't have to interpret for their fathers, but love wins out. Their affection for each other beams from their faces and hands.

A tender demonstration of how familial love is like translation—inexact, difficult, and beautiful. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-833-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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