Students of design will appreciate the construction and the lush, vibrant compositions; those seeking comfort for...

THE FOREST

Bozzi, an Italian journalist and poet, envisions a forest journey as a metaphor for the stages of life.

The book’s design is clever, instantly arousing curiosity with its translucent jacket (sans title) overlaying brilliantly hued vegetation onto a muted cover. The first double-page spread is all white, containing a straightforward sentence on the verso and a debossed face with die-cut eyes through which color is visible on the recto. A pattern is established. The white pages depict, by embossing or debossing only, a sequence of humans of varying races who gradually age. These file between spreads of greenery that similarly transform from a small grove to a progressively more crowded forest, then barren woodland. As youths, the explorers study insects and invent games. Later they notice fellow travelers, whose diversity is mentioned in terms of height, shade, and temperament, with potential for rivalry or love. Some leave traces (art carved in stone), but ultimately, “there is a ravine into which each explorer will eventually fall, despite the precautions taken and the advancements of science.” The final etched face gradually fades as saplings rise through its cracks. Death is unequivocally a mystery. Some will appreciate the final blank pages for contemplation. For others of any age, confronting one’s own mortality in a context in which life seems neither meaningful nor to be remembered will be disquieting.

Students of design will appreciate the construction and the lush, vibrant compositions; those seeking comfort for end-of-life matters will want to look elsewhere. (Picture book. 10-adult)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59270-218-3

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Lacking in character development and depth.

THE RED ZONE

AN EARTHQUAKE STORY

When people in a small Italian town lose everything in an earthquake, its youth must find a way to heal.

The 2016 earthquake in central Italy offers a backdrop for this graphic novel. Matteo; his girlfriend, Giulia; and their school friends are frightened: Their world has been destroyed, and they feel aftershocks daily. Many of their neighbors have moved away, but Matteo’s mother and stepfather work in the village, and they must stay. Matteo is luckier than most—his father brings them an old camper trailer so they can leave emergency housing. But tensions run high for others, and problems began to arise. Matteo’s friend seeks his lost dog in the forbidden zone. His little sister has trouble sleeping, and someone at their school commits vandalism. Matteo and Giulia set off to find the culprit and help a friend in need, leaning on an art teacher who teaches them an important lesson from Japan. Unfortunately the language feels stiff, and the friendships at the heart of the story are too generic. Readers learn little about these characters before the earthquake, and they fail to emerge as individuals afterward. The simple frames, awash in blue for nighttime scenes and shades of ocher for day, feel static for such an energetic premise. Most characters appear white; there is a Muslim refugee family; and Giulia is brown skinned.

Lacking in character development and depth. (author’s note) (Graphic novel. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3368-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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EARTHDANCE

PLB 0-688-16327-0 Terra’s mother is an astronaut, but as she kisses her daughter farewell before firing up her rockets, she promises to return that evening in time for Terra’s school show, “Earthdance.” Terra practices all day, and in the evening, in a green and blue leotard and toe shoes, she dances the part of Earth, with classmates dancing the roles of sun, the planets, and the seasons. The mother, true to her promise, arrives in time for the finale, with a picture of earth from her travels. The illustrations tell the stories of the mother’s travels through space and Terra’s show simultaneously, with adapted photographs from NASA opposite scenes of the children performing. It’s a lyrical introduction to the solar system and a charming futuristic family story, although science is occasionally sacrificed to poetry, e.g., Earth is not “in the middle of the Milky Way,” and it does not “turn the moon.” Reiser (Cherry Pies and Lullabies, 1998, etc.) concludes with thumbnail-sized photographs she worked with; her lovely perspective on the universe and its mysteries is easy to embrace. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16326-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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