A PLACE TO GROW

A simple story can sometimes grow into many compound emotions, like the delicate complexity of a flower. And in the hands of both an author and an illustrator with an Eastern orientation, subtle exchanges bloom into explanations of family, current events, and the natural world, enriching perceptive young readers who would spend the time to pore over the integral pictures and text. Ezra Jack Keats Award–winner Pak (Dear Juno, 1999) recounts the growth of a conversation between a father and daughter who have emigrated to the West to find their own quiet patch of earth, escaping the turmoil of their native country. The father’s belief in the good reasons to uproot—or more aptly, transplant—his family are as reassuring as the seasons and the weather. Sometimes, he says, a seed must travel far to find good soil, good sun, and good rain. And there is another garden in the heart. Newcomer Truong uses bold, solid renderings in China Ink and gouache to reinforce the solidity of the family’s survival intact. He uses a bright, varied, and happy palette in the gardens of the new country, along with startling angles and perspectives. The old country he renders darkly and more monochromatically while more in profile. There is no terror, repression, or violence depicted, because we know it is there. The simple, excellent design melds both image and text to bring a rich harvest on many different levels, like a Koan or haiku. World migration is becoming more of an issue; family survival always has been; and children’s worldliness today requires sophisticated metaphors to assuage anxieties. Perhaps in a small way here is a large contribution. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-439-13015-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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