Rollicking and wise, this sailing story mixes prose, poetry, and song, offering a special lyrical gift.

Pearl of the Seas

A FAIRYTALE PREQUEL TO 'BLACK INKED PEARL'

A tale for young readers draws on the enchantments of sea travel.

Inspired variously by the Odyssey, William Blake’s cosmologies, Rumi’s poems, and Charles Kingsley’s stories for youngsters, this novel embraces the magic of childhood imagining. Kate and Chris, along with Kate’s loyal dog, Holly, swim and frolic on a summer shore. A ship built from driftwood becomes their vessel: Kate’s the queen and Chris is the Man of Action, the one who saves them both from wind and water. At first, Kate’s fear of sailing the high seas causes her to abandon ship, but a terrible loneliness sets in, and she regrets leaving. The sudden appearance of a magician saves the day; she answers his riddles to regain her berth. In their boat, the Pearl of the Seas, Kate and Chris pilot through treacherous rocks and come ashore in a welcoming kingdom, where they learn a version of the Tower of Babel story, “the very disaster of our world.” In this hybrid book of narrative blended with verse and song, different ways of telling a story may appear on a single page. The King of Names instructs Kate that “for the deep things it is poetry.” Such wise lessons fortify the children, but even happy dreams must end. Their parting gifts include a magic pebble-pearl that rights the broken mast so they may return to the shore of reality and family. Though the Pearl of the Seas may not buoy them to distant lands again, they determine that Black Inked Pearl—the written record of their travels—shall be their legacy. As in the novel for adults, Finnegan’s (Black Inked Pearl, 2015) “fairytale prequel” for younger readers delights in the associative wordplay of sound and sense. A moment of canine joy provides a vivid illustration: “Still in gleeful flightful lightsome delighting delight. Barking, sparking, larking.” A handful of superb black-and-white drawings by Backshall complements the work’s whimsical vision.

Rollicking and wise, this sailing story mixes prose, poetry, and song, offering a special lyrical gift.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9955617-4-8

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Callender Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

The Lost Little Rabbit

A lost bunny searches for his mother in this debut picture book.

The youngster is already lost in the beginning of Lakhiani’s version of the time-honored tale of a lost child reuniting witha parent. On a foggy day, a young rabbit finds that he doesn’t recognize where he is. He calls for his mother, but instead of her voice in response, he hears the hum of a bumblebee. The nameless little rabbit asks if the bee knows where his home is, but the bee doesn’t and sends him on to the wise owl, who “sees everything.” As the little rabbit runs through the “eerie” fog toward the owl’s tree, he meets a kind squirrel. “I’ve lost my mother….I am lost and scared,” explains the little rabbit. The squirrel leads the rabbit to the wise owl’s tree, which the rabbit climbs to ask the owl, “[C]an you see where I live?” The fog is too thick for the owl to spot little rabbit’s home, so he gives the little rabbit a snack and invites him to rest. Falling asleep, the little rabbit dreams of his mother but is awakened by the hooting, buzzing and chattering of his three new friends. Looking around, he sees his mother, who embraces him: “I will never again let you out of my sight,” she tells him. The digitized art by Adams, some of which is credited to Thinkstock, is in a cartoon style that clearly delineates the characters but includes a few anthropomorphic details—a graduation cap for the owl, spectacles for the squirrel and only four legs for the bee—that add little value. Since the story centers on the little rabbit failing to recognize where he is, the choice to make the right-hand page of every spread identical is potentially confusing; regardless, it’s repetitious. The text fails in the opposite direction: It doesn’t create the typical patterns that can help toddlers follow the story, build anticipation and learn to chime in—steps on the path to reading alone. Erratic rhythms, changing stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, and awkward syntax undercut attempts to enliven the tale with poetry.

A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491895603

Page Count: 24

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Kenya

A CHILD'S INTRODUCTION TO CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD

Roman (If You Were Me and Lived In…Norway, 2013, etc.) offers a children’s primer of the geography, sports, food and vocabulary that Kenyan kids encounter in their daily lives.

The latest installment in this cultural series—preceded by books on Mexico, France, South Korea and Norway—takes young readers to the African nation of Kenya, where they get a short, engaging lesson on the country’s culture. The opening phrase “If you were me…” helps kids imagine a narrator not much different from themselves. Their Kenyan counterpart lives with their parents (“If you needed your mommy, you would call for Mzazi. When you are speaking to your daddy, you would call him Baba”), buys milk from the market and pays for it “with a shilling,” eats snacks (“samosa, a small triangular pastry filled with meat or vegetables and fried in oil”) and goes to school. The book covers Mombasa Carnival, a large yearly festival, and discusses its importance. It also explains the basics of cricket, a popular sport in Kenya, and the fact that kids usually entertain themselves with handmade toys. Roman’s books are successful since she draws connections between cultures while maintaining a tone that keeps young readers engaged. Colorful illustrations further enhance the text, such as one showing kids playing with cricket bats. A glossary at the end offers a pronunciation key for the unfamiliar words throughout. This series of books would be a natural fit in school classrooms and would also provide a good way for parents to teach their own kids about the cultures, languages and geography of different countries. This installment is a quick read that may help kids see the similarities between themselves and their Kenyan peers.

An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481979917

Page Count: 30

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2014

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