MY MAN BLUE

This against-the-odds book from Grimes (Jazmin’s Notebook, 1998, etc.) tells of an African-American boy living in a neighborhood that cuts him no slack, and the man who helps keep his feet grounded and his self-esteem steady against the occasional buffeting of his peers. Damon and his mother have just moved to a new apartment when an old friend of the mother’s introduces himself: Blue, a rather steely character wrapped in shades and enigma. Damon (who has just lost his father) is wary of Blue; he gives the man a chance only when it becomes evident that Blue is not about to move in on Damon’s home turf. Blue (who “had” a son, now lost to the streets or worse) offers advice of haiku-like simplicity, teaching Damon to be his own man: anger is a dangerous waste, fear useless unless subverted, men don’t hit women. Grimes gets across more subtle life lessons as well in both rhymed and unrhymed verse, on the dignity of work, and the sheer physical pleasure of sport when competition isn’t the sole motivating factor. It is a story of a boy who is old for his age, but not callous—and perhaps saved from callousness by Blue. Lagarrigue’s illustrations are brooding gardens of color that hold the forces of disorder and menace at bay, while Damon’s cool earnestness—as well as his courage and independence—brighten each page. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2326-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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