BLUE WILLOW

The 18th-century “blue willow” pattern, with its teahouse, hump-backed bridge, and willow tree, has inspired storytellers to shape a tale about the design’s origins; here the fundamental elements of the story combine in Conrad’s tale of love and loss. A wealthy merchant loves and protects his daughter, Kung Shi Fair, who falls in love with Chang the Good, a humble fisherman. Their romance is kept a secret, but Kung Shi’s father has seen them dallying in the moon pavilion. Afraid of losing her, Kung Shi’s father puts off, time and again, her marriage request. Kung Shi, in desperation, pilots her little boat through a storm to Chang and drowns; Chang is killed accidentally by the villagers, who take his sounds of mourning as the threatening noise of a leopard. The lovers return as birds to the moon pavilion, and the father commissions a plate in their memory. Conrad is gentle with this sad tale, warning readers of the sorrows ahead, and cautioning parents to heed their young when it comes to matters of the heart. Gallagher’s artwork is lovely, crowded with incidentals from the story and setting; the faces are animated, sometimes peeking out at readers, and inviting them into the substantial text. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22904-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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