Best known for her African-based fantasies (Akata Witch, 2011, etc.), Okorafor leaps into the world of picture books in a...

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CHICKEN IN THE KITCHEN

Anyaugo has a problem.

A giant chicken has barged into the kitchen at night to eat and spoil all of the food Anyaugo’s mother and aunties have prepared for the next day’s New Yam Festival—the Igbo celebration that opens the harvest season in Nigeria. Anyaugo has been counting on or at least hoping for the help of the Wood Wit, a nature spirit that can travel through wooden objects, who knows “everything that the wood knows” and who loves to help people in difficult situations. But when the Wood Wit advises Anyaugo to tell the chicken—in Chickenese, chicken language—to leave, she begins to recognize the Wood Wit for the trickster he is. A brown-skinned round face with mischievous eyes, long arms, a broad nose, and a smile that spans its whole face, the elusive Wood Wit will arouse curiosity and make readers want to know more about this mysterious and fun-loving figure. While Okorafor immerses readers in West African culture textually, Amini does likewise visually, especially in the beautifully patterned wings of the giant chicken. When the festival finally begins, Amini gives readers a wonderful idea of what the New Yam Festival looks and feels like.

Best known for her African-based fantasies (Akata Witch, 2011, etc.), Okorafor leaps into the world of picture books in a most unforgettable way with this playful, fascinating tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-9113-7315-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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