STORY QUILTS

APPALACHIAN WOMEN SPEAK

A loving tribute to perseverance and inner strength.

The scraps of Appalachian lives, forgotten by many, persist in the memories marked by thread and bits of cloth.

Green pines, blue mountains, and star-frosted skies peek out of squares stitched together by weathered hands that cooked, cleaned, canned, and gardened all day long. Quilts that would one day hang in museums lovingly sheltered families on cold Blue Ridge nights. Girls would watch their mamas until one day their young hands learned to gather squares and form quilts of their own. Hitchcock’s quiet homage is humbling. The author’s note details the resourcefulness of these women who endured poverty and often lacked formal schooling yet could turn feed sacks into songs of love. Page’s earth-toned art, made out of clay, paper, wire, and fabric, fills the pages with mountain life. Hands guiding needles pop out of scenes. Cut-out flowers, appliqued dogs and fish, intricate stars, and textured images animate the narrative. Hitchcock makes clear that hardship couldn’t silence these women’s stories, told in the language of embellished pieces of worn fabric. Illustrations depict light-skinned characters, though one child appears to be darker-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A loving tribute to perseverance and inner strength. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7537-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

THE LITTLE BOOK OF JOY

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

DEAR RUBY, HEAR OUR HEARTS

Anemic messages of hope from an iconic activist.

Civil rights legend Bridges encourages young people to persevere.

After becoming the face of school integration at just 6 years old, Bridges continued to further her legacy by visiting schools across the U.S. Over the past 25 years, she has received letters from thousands of students with “ideas and concerns that ran deeper than we grown-ups gave them credit for.” In her latest book for kids, Bridges responds to notes from children grappling with political and social crises, including anti-Asian racism, climate change, and gun violence. The issues that matter to young Americans come alive in Cabuay’s energetic illustrations, which make deft use of color and texture. On one spread, a short, brown-skinned child named Tala, bullied for being short, strides confidently down a school hallway past classmates who whisper and laugh. In the accompanying letter, Tala talks about drawing strength from Bridges’ bravery; Bridges’ reply emphasizes that “it’s okay to be different because what really matters is your heart and what’s inside!” The correspondences are brief, barely skimming the surface, and Bridges’ messages are too general to have a genuine impact. Backmatter, which includes a glossary with pronunciation guides, is helpful but does little to connect Bridges’ historic contributions to the issues young people are facing today. This picture book’s superficial discussion of important topics doesn’t live up to Bridges’ advocacy or Cabuay’s dynamic art.

Anemic messages of hope from an iconic activist. (more information on Bridges) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338753912

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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