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THE GENIE IN THE JAR by Nikki Giovanni Kirkus Star


by Nikki Giovanni & illustrated by Chris Raschka

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4118-4
Publisher: Henry Holt

A poem by Giovanni (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1994, etc.) for the singer Nina Simone becomes a luscious illustrated work with Raschka's watercolor, ink, and oil stick figures. Readers don't need to know anything about Simone to hear this book sing. ``Take a note and spin it around . . . don't prick your finger . . . take a note and spin it around on the Black loom . . . Take a genie and put her in a jar, wrap the sky around her.'' The vocabulary is simple, and fairly dances with images as Giovanni weaves her story of music and heart. The figures--a small girl, her mother, and a circle of women--swoop and curve like musical notes. The textured Fabriano paper backgrounds make the art seem to pop off the page; the colors are rich and warm, in shades of tea, chocolate, malt, cappucino, and butter, with a vibrant azure cloud. As is true of good poetry, this piece begs to be read aloud; as is true of fine art, it repays repeated examination. In the comforting rhythm of these pages, children will absorb a message of faith in the power of art leavened by love. (Picture book. 4-10)