Nobly intentioned, certainly misguided. (Picture book. 4-8)

FAR FROM HOME

A STORY OF LOSS, REFUGE, AND HOPE

Forced to leave home, a young boy finds comfort in a story of Jesus Christ.

An unnamed boy living in an unnamed desert village in Syria is rudely awoken one night when his parents tell him that their country is no longer safe, that they must flee. The boy hates both the thought of leaving and the reality of waiting to arrive at a destination, and his frustrations boil over in a tearful outburst. An old woman in a refugee camp tells him one of her “favorite stories”: that of the infant Jesus Christ and his flight to Egypt. Using the words of the boy’s own flight, she hearteningly points out that despite the successes of Jesus’ ministry, “he never forgot what it was like—the leaving and the waiting and the different.” Notably, the old woman never names Jesus in the story; readers, however, will likely infer his identity through the illustrations. All characters are dark-haired and olive-skinned; the family and other refugees are cued as Muslim, with the women and girls wearing hijab in public. The old woman, dressed in peasant clothing evocative of Turkey or the Caucasus, also appears in hijab—a disconcerting contradiction to her evident belief in aspects of Jesus’ story not subscribed to in Islam. This contradiction is never addressed in the text; indeed, the text never addresses much at all, delivering a warm but bland tale of faiths coming together. The resolution fails to delve deeply into the struggle of adjustment, further undermining the story’s emotional impact.

Nobly intentioned, certainly misguided. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3673-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tyndale House

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more