Here is Kate Tranter coming home from school in the January dusk—the first to come, because she is the youngest of her family." With that plain, brisk, insinuating opening—the introduction, also, to the occupied house "with no lit window"—there begins a child's searing initiation into adult secrets, cruelty, shame: Philippa Pearce's most ambitious book since the unforgettable Tom's Midnight Garden. Kate, an inward child (about ten) attached to her cat Syrup, believes her father to have drowned the night she was born and to be buried in the churchyard. Then the headstone disappears, and Kate learns that unknown "Uncle Bob" was the Alfred on the headstone—and her own father, Frederick, has just recently died: the message in dour Granny Randall's mysterious letter. From oldest brother Ran—once fond, now secretive too—she has heard of "something awful" that happened, about the time Dad supposedly died, on also-unknown "Sattin Shore." A bicycle trip there—a spot on the estuary, next-older brother Lenny knows—is exhausting, unnerving. (What about the cryptic old woman, looking at Kate so curiously, mumbling about drowning? What was the man with the binoculars doing?) At home, mystery crowds upon mystery, distress upon distress. "The eyes of a stranger"—with a face like Ran's—"looked at her from over her shoulder, from the dim depths of the mirror." Syrup disappears, then reappears in the loft under the roof. (Could feeble Granny Randall really have gone up there? Why?) The resolution will not only Explain All, it will (as you'll have guessed) restore Kate's Dad to the family, much chastened (he disappeared after circumstantial implication in Bob's drowning), and leave Kate, who has been fierce beyond pluck or spunk, content to look forward—"to her birthday in July, and the great good changes that were promised." The mystery is a cover, of sorts, for emotional and psychological baring that would otherwise be too much.

Pub Date: April 9, 1984

ISBN: 0192792407

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1984

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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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