The second children’s picture book within a year about the famed potter, Juan Quezada of the village of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico, this one is very different from The Pot that Juan Built, by Nancy Andrews-Goebel, illustrated by David Diaz (2002). While lacking the dazzle of Diaz’s art, this modest effort nevertheless provides comparable information in a homespun manner. Here, Quezada tells the story of his life to his eager grandson: “ ‘Tell the story about the special day, Abuelito!’ begged Chato.” With Spanish words interspersed throughout, a glossary and pronunciation key are included. At Chato’s prompting, Juan tells how he discovered an intact ancient pot, and spent years working to recreate the techniques used by the long-vanished potters of Paquimé. Through his success with pottery, Quezada was able to rescue the village from poverty, teaching his relatives and neighbors how to make the pots that are now in demand worldwide. The conversational style will be easy for children to follow, especially those whose native language is Spanish. An appendix contains a history, a map of the area, and information about clay and the process of making pottery. A lesson plan is also appended that suggests using paper and a water-filled balloon to create an approximation of the process of creating designs on pottery probably a rather unsatisfactory substitute for actually making something with clay. Libraries that have the first book on Quezada will want this one, too. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-9708617-4-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Norman Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Go adventuring with a better guide.


From the The 50 States series

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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