THE GOLDEN FLOWER

A TAINO MYTH FROM PUERTO RICO

The island of Puerto Rico, originally called Boriquén by its Taino inhabitants, was once, according to legend, a barren mountain. A child, looking for food, collected a pouch full of seeds and planted them at the top of the mountain, which then sprouted a forest. A vine in the forest grew a magnificent orange flower, from which emerged an enormous golden “globe that shone like the sun”—a pumpkin (calabaza). Unbeknownst to the people, this pumpkin contained the sea. When two men, fighting over the pumpkin, dropped it, it rolled down the mountain, where it burst open, releasing the sea and “whales, dolphins, crabs, and sunfish.” The waters rose until they stopped at the edge of the magic forest, creating the island of Boriquén. Beautifully and simply written, this little-known tale is a welcome addition to creation myths. Unfortunately, although Jaffe acknowledges help in ascertaining “historical and linguistic accuracy and detail,” she includes no original source. The illustrations in luscious tropical colors, with shapes and patterns (especially spirals) reminiscent of pre-Columbian art, are perfect. (Picture book/folktale. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 30, 2005

ISBN: 1-55885-452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arté Público

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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Funny and provocative.

TALLULAH THE TOOTH FAIRY CEO

A tooth-fairy mogul wrote the manual, but even the expert can be caught off guard.

Tallulah, CEO of Teeth Titans Inc., gives readers a sneak peek into her glamorous life. The wry narrative mimics the tone of many an inspirational biography, informing readers that Tallulah works hard to strike “a healthy balance between the three Ps: passion, purpose, and what pays.” From yoga to museum visits, Tallulah seems to have a full schedule, but she still makes time to hire and train tooth fairies for the entire world. Expert Tallulah has all the answers—or so she thinks until the night she gets a surprise from a little boy. Ballard has lost his tooth—literally—and leaves an explanatory note under his pillow in place of the missing item. This triggers an emergency board meeting that features remarkably realistic dialogue. Tom, a white man and the only board member who is not a woman of color, wears an #AllFairiesMatter T-shirt; his off-topic complaint about the lack of diversity makes an opening for important conversations with young readers. Tallulah is black and sports a voluminous purple Afro; Tom is the sole white character. Details in both Pizzoli’s text (Tallulah’s also the founder of the National Association for the Appreciation and Care of Primary Teeth, or NAACP-T) and Fabiani’s matte illustrations (a series of enormous, Warhol-like prints of Tallulah adorns her walls) will set adult readers chuckling.

Funny and provocative. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30919-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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