JETHRO AND THE JUMBIE

"Tom? It have my birthday next week," Caribbean islander Jethro reminds his older brother. But Thomas, who had promised to take Jethro fishing when the little boy turned eight, now says "You not big enough, man. How could tell that you wouldn't grow none? Got to be big to help haul them fishpots. Muscle." Well, this makes Jethro so mad that he marches right through the woods on the fearsome jumbie trail; and even when he sees a jumbie—a sort of ghost in the form of a fuzzy ball of light—he speaks right up and tells it, "You don't scare me none. You not real." In a central episode which suggests that Tinker Bell has come to the islands, the fading, sobbing jumble confesses to its dependence on being believed in, and Jethro relents. In return, the jumble gives Thomas a dream that changes his mind about taking Jethro fishing. "Sometimes things that ain't real can be a whole big help to people that are," says Jethro. On the jacket flap Cooper says that she wanted to remind children of the "music and vitality of regional language." The idiomatic speech and other regional touches give the well-made little story some color, though like the jumbie it lacks the fullness of life that would convince you it's real.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1980

ISBN: 0689501404

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1980

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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