A loving tribute to a history that should not be forgotten.

READ REVIEW

AFRICVILLE

Africville, a historic black community that was located on the shores of Nova Scotia, is described from a child’s perspective in this nostalgic picture book.

“Take me to the end of the ocean,” begins this homage. The artwork, in brightly colored oil and pastel on canvas, combines past and present. The opening spread shows a modern-day black girl arriving at the shore, “where waves come to rest and hug the harbor stones.” On shore, family, childhood, and community scenes from historic Africville await her. Some details are easy to imagine, like going to “watch the sea bring us all its treasures” and hearing “stories shared all around me.” Others are specific to Africville but evocative of childhood adventure, like meeting at the Caterpillar Tree and “rafting down at Tibby’s Pond.” Still other details spark curiosity, like blueberry duff and “where my great-grandmother’s name is marked in stone.” On the final spread, the modern child enjoys an ice cream cone at a reunion, facing out at readers. The endmatter describes a community that was vibrant but neglected, then demolished in the 1960s. The annual reunions initiated in 1983 and the building of a museum echo the note of optimism on the final spread: “where memories turn to dreams, and dreams turn to hope, and hope never ends.” The writing is spare but emotional, and the art brings the community to life.

A loving tribute to a history that should not be forgotten. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77306-043-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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