Sánchez has captured a kaleidoscope of emotion and powerful sensations in a way children will grasp completely. It’s The...

HERE I AM

Beautiful, evocative pictures tell the story of a boy who comes from an Asian land to a big U.S. city.

Images in this virtually wordless, slender graphic novel range from dreamlike curlicues to bold, dark cityscapes and emotional vignettes. The boy looks out of the window of a plane, great sadness in his body language. He and his father, mother and baby sister go through a crowded airport and a noisy and bewildering city to a small apartment. He finds the subway and the streets confusing, and he does not understand anything at school. The boy cherishes a red seed he has evidently brought from home. By accident, he drops it out the apartment window and then goes on a frantic search for it, finding new and interesting places along the way. He discovers he loves big, salted pretzels and shares some with the pigeons. When a girl with bouncy braids and beads in her hair climbs a tree and hangs upside down, the red seed falls out of her pocket. She and the boy plant it together, and as the seasons pass, friendship, seed and baby sister grow. An author’s note describes the storyteller’s voyage at age 4 from Korea to Washington, D.C.

Sánchez has captured a kaleidoscope of emotion and powerful sensations in a way children will grasp completely. It’s The Arrival for younger readers. (Graphic novel. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62370-036-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans’ drive to preserve their dignity and pride.

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FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE

Count down the days until Sunday, a day for slaves in New Orleans to gather together and remember their African heritage.

In rhyming couplets, Weatherford vividly describes each day of nonstop work under a “dreaded lash” until Sunday, when slaves and free blacks could assemble in Congo Square, now a part of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Park and on the National Register of Historic Places. Musicians “drummed ancestral roots alive” on different traditional instruments, and men and women danced. They also exchanged information and sold wares. The poetry is powerful and evocative, providing a strong and emotional window into the world of the slave. Christie’s full-bleed paintings are a moving accompaniment. His elongated figures toil in fields and in houses with bent backs under the watchful eyes of overseers with whips. Then on Sunday, they greet one another and dance with expressively charged spirits. One brilliant double-page spread portrays African masks and instruments with swirling lines of text; it is followed by another with four dancers moving beautifully—almost ethereally—on a vibrant yellow collage background. As the author notes, jazz would soon follow from the music played in Congo Square.

Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans’ drive to preserve their dignity and pride. (foreword, glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0103-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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