SLEEPING BOY

A curse dropped on the shoulders of a baby by an angry neighbor is subverted into a saving grace when WWII roars through Germany, in this allegorical tale, built along the plot lines of Sleeping Beauty. Herr and Frau Rosen are celebrating the birth of their son, Knabe, when their ferocious neighbor, Major Krieg, predicts that when he turns 16, the boy will hear the sounds of beating drums and join the march to war. Another guest, Tante Taube, softens the curse with her blessing, by saying Knabe will only fall asleep when he hears the drums, and remain oblivious to the poverty and strife of the war. So it unfolds—except that the whole family, not just Knabe, slumbers through the horrors of the Holocaust and beyond, right through the dividing of Berlin. It isn’t until the wall comes down that the family awakens, oblivious to all that’s passed. Gore’s illustrations are lovely and moody, with the look of the faded snapshots of memory. Children will see this as an alternative to the story of Sleeping Beauty, while adults will be compelled to ponder the story’s metaphorical depths. Some will find the ending difficult to comprehend—that characters who have been positioned in a setting specifically outside a fairy-tale realm could be allowed to remain oblivious to such century-shattering, life-altering events. (Picture book. 6-9) . . . Curry, Jane Louise A STOLEN LIFE McElderry (200 pp.) $16.00 Oct. 1, 1999 ISBN: 0-689-82932-9 Curry (Turtle Island, p. 798, etc.) plunges readers into the perilous world of 1758 Scotland, where “spiriters”—men who, with the knowledge and approval of Aberdeen’s magistrates and merchants, snatched children and sold them into bondage in America—thrived. Young Jamesina Mackenzie is spirited away during a picnic. Aboard the America-bound Sparrowhawk, she is kept in a cage until her captors reach Richmond, Virginia, where she is inspected and sold to the Shaws Plantation. She chafes at servitude’she is maid, messenger, laundress, and horse groom—but realizes her life is easier than that of the African slaves. Jamesina’s mistress and master send her off with former bondsman Biggs, as part of his freedom dues. When Cherokees kill Biggs for horse theft, Jamesina is taken to the Cherokee village of Itsanti, until the British army headed by Scottish Highlanders arrives to claim Cherokee land, and Jamesina is happily reunited with members of her own family. Curry successfully combines little-known facts about US history with a page-turning tale of hardships overcome. The jacket painting instantly evokes Jamesina’s world; in text and in art, she’s an appealing heroine, full of old-fashioned spunk. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81763-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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