A paean to the simple joys of girlfriends takes flight in this vividly phrased and illustrated picture book. On a summer Saturday, five girls in “the Project” get together to find a little fun. The girls start drawing paper dolls at Hattie Jean’s, who has a room of her own. ViLee wants to get out of the Project, afraid her mamma will make her take her baby brother along, so they end up walking, arms linked, to where they can climb trees. The narrator talks about some other activities, e.g., taking turns on Hattie Lee’s bike, or collecting bottles for the recycler to earn money for a movie, or running errands for the neighbors. They end up climbing their favorite magnolia, and taking a blossom to Lois, the friend who couldn’t get away, to put in her hair. Saint James’s signature paintings are made of broad flat planes of color in bold, geometric shapes. The girls are clearly distinguished by their hair and skin tones, the narrator by her short hair and tiny gold stud earring. The marvelous closeness of girlfriends saturates the straightforward storyline, with a dialect from the inner city and a universal theme of escape, from parents and small siblings, just for awhile. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-230982-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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PLB 0-679-99369-X Inspired by local versions of a popular Japanese folktale, Sierra (Antarctic Antics, 1998, etc.) recasts a yarn that usually stars Momotaro, or “Peach Boy,” with a female lead. When giant, ogre-like oni take away all the village’s babies to make snacks of their tasty navels, little Uriko-hime is left behind; she was born from a melon, and so has no belly button. Gathering up a small band of animal companions along the way, Uriko tricks the monsters into walloping themselves with clubs, and rescues the children, leaving delicious millet dumplings behind in consolation. Clad in a flowing, watermelon-colored kimono, Uriko makes a doughty heroine, equally skilled in cookery and swordplay; So’s art has a traditional look, with theatrically gesturing figures, busy crowd scenes, and energetic brushwork. A vigorously told comic adventure. (Picture book/folklore. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-89369-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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