Good for niche markets only.

STILL THERE?

From the A Little Zen for Little Ones series

An old Zen Buddhist tale retold for tots.

Two boys play in a schoolyard on a beautiful day. An older girl interrupts their games by ranting and raving about losing an earring while doing nothing to find it. One boy immediately starts looking for the missing jewelry and gets dirty in his search. The other boy watches and frowns. When the helpful boy finds the earring, the girl snatches it and runs off with nary a thank you. The boys start to play again, but the boy who didn’t participate in the search is too upset to have fun. The boy who found the earring tells his friend that it’s a sunny day, and they should be enjoying themselves. He points out that the girl and her earring are long gone and asks, “Why are you still there?” Namibar’s second Little Zen for Little Ones tale is a good-enough modernization of the legend of Japanese monks Tanzen and Ekido that counsels against holding on to past slights. However, it is hobbled by nameless characters and stagy, flat computer illustrations that resemble paper cutouts. The children look like button-eyed bobbleheads superimposed on realistic watercolor backgrounds. Jon J Muth’s retelling of the tale in Zen Shorts (2005) is vastly superior.

Good for niche markets only. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9838243-2-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Umiya Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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