For a more reflective illustration of kindness begetting kindness, consider Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness, illustrated...

READ REVIEW

EVERYBODY CAN HELP SOMEBODY

Patronizing storytelling glosses over a tale of Christian kindness.

Hall retells his biography of inspirational speaker Moore (Same Kind of Different as Me, 2008) as a lesson in charity. Moore grows up on The Man’s plantation during the Great Depression, illustrated with deep colors and eye-catching images, such as a black boy with a sack of cotton as big as he is. After hopping a freight train, Moore is homeless until Hall’s wife dreams about him and finds him at a mission. Moore’s reaction is plainly touching: “Denver had never heard anyone say, ‘God loves you.’ He had never even heard someone say, ‘I love you.’ ” However, Hall’s prose is often glib; he tells without showing, and his description of plantation life borders on benevolent. When The Man gives Moore a bike in exchange for picking 100 pounds of cotton, the blistering labor is described as “extra chores”; asked if he is homeless, Moore reflects that The Man had “given him” a shack. While young children may understand chores and rewards, equating sharecropping with receiving an allowance is hugely problematic without discussion. Moore’s simple, evocative pictures tell his story best, mitigating Hall’s superficial text.

For a more reflective illustration of kindness begetting kindness, consider Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2012). (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4003-2269-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in.

GOD SPEAKS IN WHISPERS

Rhyming text and colorful multicultural illustrations reassure young readers of God’s omnipresence and still small voice.

“Where in the world is God’s voice found?” Perhaps in ocean waves, bird song, or mountain vistas, suggest the couplet rhymes. Even when readers might be faced with difficult emotions and distractions of all kinds, the text reassures them that God is still there and still speaking, if only one pauses to listen. His voice can be found in nature, in starlight, in the love of family and friends, in dreams, and “through His Word.” Admirably, the bright illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century Disney artist Mary Blair’s stylings, depict children and families with a diverse array of skin tones and ages. There is also a refreshing mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Yet, despite the appealing illustrations, the rhymes and scansion are often forced (“your feelings, they matter, / even if they’re all mixed up like / pancake batter”), which detracts from the overall message. Contrived couplets notwithstanding, this title will likely find an audience among Christian households seeking reassuring bedtime reads.

Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65385-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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This will serve well in both religious and nonreligious settings for fall curriculum support.

CELEBRATING HARVEST

The annual harvest from farm to table is explored with a religious perspective, focusing on Christian harvest traditions and the Jewish celebration of Sukkot.

Crisp color photography highlights children in scenes of farming and the harvesting of fruits and vegetables. The book features several instructive points about the variety of produce available, the harvest concept and sharing. Finally, it covers two different yet corresponding religious ways to observe the harvest and thank God. Church-based harvest festivals are illustrated by the decorating of a church with various breads, wheat stalks and baskets of food. Sukkot is shown with the building and decorating of a Sukkah and how this symbol of a shelter or hut relates to the ancient Jewish celebration. An informative and eye-catching design on glossy paper offers a large, multicolored print, the majority of text blocks in black against soft pale backgrounds, with key words in bold blue; these are repeated in a vocabulary border at the bottom of each page. The text is largely framed in questions, encouraging personal response and discussion. The simplicity and functionality of the book’s premise is enhanced with an addendum of teaching suggestions for specific pages and more detailed background information about the concepts presented.

This will serve well in both religious and nonreligious settings for fall curriculum support. (websites, index) (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-237-54373-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Evans/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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