There’s plenty of wisdom here for older children and adults of many faiths.

READ REVIEW

JUST FOR TODAY

Landmann illustrates the decalogue of Angelo Roncalli, probably best known as Pope John XXIII and now St. John—a simple set of 10 precepts to live by.

Each day, he would be polite, he would not criticize, he would spend 10 minutes in silence listening to God. “Just for today, I will make a plan: perhaps I will not follow it perfectly, but still I will make it. And I will guard against two evils: haste and indecision.” He concludes knowing that it is hard to think of doing those things for a lifetime, but for 12 hours? Surely one can do that. The original Italian is not quite so stiff, although it is as formal; the advice in any language is strong but gentle, as the man himself was. Landmann has made a near-magical series of images illustrating this prayer: of a boy, of a city of turrets and domes, of a classroom in which each child has an animal companion like a guardian angel (or one of Philip Pullman’s daemons), of rooftops and forest and ocean. Her surreal approach is ideal for the ethereal subject. The palette is blue and gold, and the line is delicate. The credo is a bit too wordy for very young children, but they might be taken by the images, and the repetition of “just for today” has a comforting, rhythmic weight.

There’s plenty of wisdom here for older children and adults of many faiths. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5461-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family.

THE LANGUAGE OF ANGELS

A STORY ABOUT THE REINVENTION OF HEBREW

The ancient Hebrew language enters the modern world.

In 1885 Jerusalem, a young boy named Ben-Zion cannot converse with the polyglot children of his age because his father has decreed that he speak only Hebrew, “the first child in more than two thousand years” to do so. The father, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, is a Zionist immigrant to Palestine and fervently believes that Jews from every country, speaking so many different languages, should return to the language of their ancestors and of Jewish Scripture. Ben-Zion is not popular in the neighborhood; some consider Hebrew a holy tongue to be used only in prayer. The father persists and finds that he needs to invent words to modernize the ancient language. Thus, by combining the Hebrew words for “wheel” and for “a pair of” he creates a word for bicycle. Ben-Yehuda’s work leads to a network of schools, a dictionary, and the eventual designation of Hebrew in 1948 as the national language of Israel. Michelson’s account, based on history, is presented as a story with invented dialogue, which he addresses in his author’s note. Gudeon’s digitized watercolor illustrations, full of children, are lively and feature Hebrew words and letters as part of the page design.

A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family. (afterword, further reading) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-636-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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More homily than history—and bland to boot.

THE LIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER

A POP-UP BOOK

A pop-up introduction to the great Christian reformer.

In Traini’s seven compositionally similar tableaux, simply drawn cartoon figures—all white until a diverse mix of worshipers from the past and present gathers at the end—pop up to look on wide-eyed, along with lots of small cute forest creatures, at select incidents in Luther’s career. As a disclaimer has it, the uncredited and decidedly sketchy narrative is the “popular” version: after being caught in a storm that prompts him to promise God to become a monk if he survives (according to his own account, he appealed to St. Anne), Martin goes on to discover in the Bible “the very good news that we are saved by faith!” Following his 95 theses (totally unexplained) and refusal to recant before the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, he is temporarily kidnapped for his own safety, later produces a German Bible and other writings, and inspires “a reformation of the church” that is still ongoing so long as “we read the Bible, listen to the Holy Spirit, and follow Jesus in faith.” Readers interested in specific dates, biographical details, or even a general picture of Luther’s times will have to look elsewhere.

More homily than history—and bland to boot. (Informational pop-up picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5064-2192-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Sparkhouse

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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