THE ROSES IN MY CARPET

A young refugee boy from Afghanistan struggles toward adulthood in a compassionate tale from Khan (Bedtime B-a-a- a-lk, p. 896) about the healing of the human spirit. At the mud house in the refugee camp, the nameless narrator’s days consist mainly of work, school, prayers, and sharing what little there is to eat. He has nightmares of war, and is learning the skill of carpet-weaving, from which he hopes to someday derive a living for his family; with his father dead, the boy is embarrassed to admit that he accepts minimal aid from an unseen sponsor. In his graceful narrative, he names the colors he works with: “White for the shroud we wrapped my father’s body in. Black is for the night that cloaks us from enemy eyes. Green is the color of life. Blue is the sky. One day it will be free of jets.” Leaden skies and mud-colored walls contrast with the bright colors of the carpet; Himler’s watercolor and pencil drawings, spare as the text, build poignantly to a portrait of a life. After the news comes that his sister, hospitalized with broken legs, will heal, the boy’s dreams turn; the roses he is weaving into a carpet appear in his vision of a future “where the bombs cannot touch us.” (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-8234-1399-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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