GIRLS TOGETHER

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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THE COLORS OF US

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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THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS EXPLORES THE SENSES

The way-off-road vehicle (The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field, 1997, etc.) tours the ears, eyes, nose, and skin when the assistant principal, Mr. Wilde, accidentally shrinks the school bus and the children on board, commandeering it to deliver a message to Ms. Frizzle. The vehicle plunges into the eye of a police officer, where the students explore the pupil, the cornea, the retina, and the optic nerve leading to the brain. Then it’s on to other senses, via the ear of a small child, the nose of a dog, and the tongue of the Friz herself. Sidebars and captions add to the blizzard of information here; with a combination of plot, details, and jokes, the trip is anything but dull. The facts will certainly entice readers to learn more about the ways living creatures perceive the world. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-44697-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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