PREMLATA AND THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

A tender rags-to-riches tale from Godden (Great Grandfather's House, 1993, etc.), with an Indian setting and universal themes. Premlata cannot believe there will be no deepas—small oil lamps—for Diwali, the festival of lights that honors the goddess Kali. Her widowed mother has sold them—and most of the family's other possessions—to feed Prem and her siblings. At the big house her mother serves, Prem outhaggles the wicked housekeeper, Paru Didi, and is given rupees from the master, Bijoy Rai, to buy new oil lamps. She goes to the market, but is so distracted by sweets, toys, and gifts for her family that all the rupees are gone before she finds the lamp merchant. How Prem gets home safely (with the help of the master's friendly elephant), sees the end of Paru Didi's reign, and helps restore the family's fortunes is but part of this sweetly reassuring holiday story. Illustrated with soft-focus, beautifully detailed black-and-white drawings, the book provides a whirlwind tour of one small corner of Bengal life, and is sure to find an audience ready for any story Godden tells. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-15136-1

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-80401-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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RIVER STORY

Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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