DANCING WITH DZIADZIU

Young Gabriella listens to her grandmother's stories of Poland, immigrant life in America, and dancing with her handsome young husband, Dziadziu, in an enchanting, life-affirming story that's as iridescent as the glimmer between life and death. Bartoletti (Silver at Night, 1994, etc.) works magic, writing in the voice of the granddaughter and enabling readers to share the sadness of Babci's approaching death (``I remember when my grandmother was round as a loaf of bread and my arms couldn't fit around her waist. Now Babci's fingers are cold, and the bones float inside her skin'') and the joy of the premature Easter celebration the bedridden old woman has requested. There is humor in Babci's story of how her family ``branded'' their coal-camp free-range chickens by painting the birds' feet blue, and satisfaction in Gabriella's realization that—this time—she has performed her snowflake dance exactly right for Babci. This family is lovingly attuned to one another; Gabriella knows when Babci drifts from present to past, from talk to rest. The stiffly framed woodcut-like illustrations have none of the quicksilver quality of the text, but convey snapshops of the past, and the folkloric motifs that are obviously a part of the family's heritage. A wonderfully mature story, full of humanity. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200675-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A lovely story of giving and community founded in Nigerian culture. Delectable.

THANK YOU, OMU!

Omu makes a stew so delicious everyone in the neighborhood follows their noses to her door.

Omu (which means “queen” in Igbo—Omu is black) is making a “thick red stew in a big fat pot” for her dinner. She tastes it, saying it’ll be the most delicious supper she’s ever had, while out the window drifts the scent of the “scrumptious” stew until it reaches a little boy. The story is peppered with synonyms for “scrumptious” (itself repeated throughout), allowing readers the chance to discuss and expand vocabulary. When the little boy follows the smell to Omu’s door, she kindly offers to share her stew with him. So begins a veritable parade of neighborhood residents who, led by the smell, end up at Omu’s door. The collage art adds texture, depth, and distinctiveness to each character. Omu shares her thick red stew with all and receives grateful thanks in reply. Alas, when Omu looks for her own supper, she finds her pot empty. The expressive illustrations convey her despondency as she answers yet another knock at her door to find…that the multiracial neighbors she shared with are back! This time, they have gifts in hand and are ready to make her a wonderful supper, which turns into another shared meal and a dance party.

A lovely story of giving and community founded in Nigerian culture. Delectable. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-43124-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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