ONE BELFAST BOY

It’s hard for most US readers to imagine what it is like to grow up amid ongoing violence, but that is what Liam’s life has been in Belfast. However, this 11-year-old’s family life, school, and dreams will be known to children everywhere. After providing an overview of “the Troubles,” McMahon movingly describes the conditions of Liam’s existence: a Catholic, he has never known a Protestant—“peace walls” separate the Catholic and Protestant sections of Belfast. On his way to school, Liam passes buildings with large messages painted on them: “Brits Out,” or “No Surrender.” Family and school conversations often include passing references to a bomb going off. O’Connor’s full-color photographs show all the aspects of Liam’s life, including his training for a boxing match; the boy loses, but rather than believe that the judges ruled against him because of where he’s from, he quotes a rule he has learned—“We win, or we lose. Then we go on.” This book provides a realistic glimpse of a place where peace has taken a fragile hold, and offers a reminder that the dreams of children can flourish amid misery. (map) (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-68620-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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AN AMISH YEAR

Readers follow a fourth grade Amish girl named Anna through the four seasons in a gentle tale from Ammon (An Amish Christmas, 1996, not reviewed). Perhaps in the spirit of Amish culture, the book does not engage reader through flashy illustrations or a kitschy plot. Instead, it offers a sense of serene assurance that arises from this community that is attempting to live according to its set of beliefs. Anna’s life, as with all Amish, revolves around the seasons, home, and farm. Hard work, milking the cows, tending the vegetable garden, and school take up most of her time, but that does not preclude fun; there is a time and place for everything in her life, including play when the work is done. Like the “English” (non-Amish), Anna and her friends enjoy softball, volleyball, flying kites, sledding, etc. Ammon makes Anna approachable, subtly revealing the similarities between her life and readers’ while illuminating the fundamentals of Amish culture. The well-researched, luminous illustrations resonate with the beauty of this life and are an integral part of the book. For a hurly-burly society, the notion of families gathering and caring for one another in an extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins is inviting and accessible. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82622-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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AUNT PITTY PATTY'S PIGGY

Aylesworth and McClintock (The Gingerbread Man, 1998) tackle the story of the old woman whose pig won’t go over the stile, hindering her from going home. Here, the fat piggy is purchased at the market, but when it arrives home, it won’t go through the gate. The old woman, in this case Aunt Pitty Patty, enlists her young niece Nelly to go fetch help. Nelly implores a dog to bite the pig, a stick to hit the dog, a fire to burn the stick, water to douse the fire, etc. All the while, the piggy is parked by the gate reciting, “No, no, no, I will not go.” Aylesworth’s addition of the rhyming refrain preserves some of the cadence of the traditional tale, while softening the verbs (“hit” instead of “beat,” the rope “ties” instead of “hangs,” the butcher is to “scare” instead of “kill”) usually associated with it. McClintock emphasizes expression over action, and employs the same dainty brown line and soft watercolor wash of this team’s previous book. (Picture book/folklore. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-89987-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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