That perennial source of child-misery—an uptight mother who's not sympathetic to pets, especially the ratty sort—is deftly and unblinkingly examined by Philippa Pearce, though the situation is too familiar, and the outcome too predictable, to yield one of her more memorable fictions. The two gerbils, Bubble and Squeak (after the English beef-and-cabbage dish), are really Sid's—bestowed upon him by an Australia-bound acquaintance—but it's doting Peggy who can tell them apart, and little Amy who squeals. As for unassertive stepfather Bill, well, he once had white mice as a boy. . . . So there's a rush of resentment when Mrs. S., unbeknownst, gives the gerbils away (Sid runs off to the town's glummest woods) and despair when—after their return and the ensuing "gerbil festival"-she puts out their cage for the garbage man. But: "Missus," he says devastatingly, "you can't do this. There's something alive in here." To comfort the horrified Amy, Mrs. S. promises not to send the gerbils away again. And Sid, who's been equally intransigent, reluctantly agrees to let them stay with Peggy's accommodating friend for a cooling-off period. The final pair of crises thus finds the family more or less united: Bubble is mauled by a cat, Mrs. S. helps administer medication, and on the former owner's reappearance (Australia "didn't suit"), everyone talks him over to acquiring replacements. An active story, intensely felt, discerningly put, and irresistibly pictured.

Pub Date: April 16, 1979

ISBN: 0754062171

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1979

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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


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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