A restrained, lyrical introduction to a nature artist whose work and reputation justify the exposure to young viewers south...


Inspired by a historical encounter, a child remembers Canadian artist Tom Thomson teaching her to paint during a summer sojourn at her father’s lakeside home.

As in the creative team’s The Art Room (2002), a similar tribute to Canadian artist Emily Carr, Vande Griek’s spare, poetic narrative links a series of harmonious scenes done in strongly brushed strokes of greens, blues, and golds. Arriving at the lakeside house one afternoon in a canoe filled with “fishing gear, / camping gear, / painting gear,” Tom makes mulligatawny stew over a campfire and then, as days pass, ventures out with the young observer to paint flowers and boats, trees, and moonlight on water. All the while, as a sort of refrain, the west wind blows “gentle” or “fresh,” “light” or “wild,” and when at last it blows “away” with July’s passage, the young man too departs. Milelli incorporates inexact but evocative versions of some of Thomson’s paintings into his outdoorsy illustrations, and Vande Griek closes with a biographical note enlarging on the 1914 visit and the painter’s prominent place in the history of Canadian art.

A restrained, lyrical introduction to a nature artist whose work and reputation justify the exposure to young viewers south of the border. (resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-701-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).


A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.


The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents.


A Southern novelist looks to the Civil War’s immediate aftermath in this newly free child’s account of a weary search for his mother.

“War’s over. Government say we free. Folks be on the move. Getting the feel for freedom. Not me.” He joins the large number of ex-slaves who, “all hope and hurry on,” have hit the road in search of brighter futures, but young Gabe has a different goal: tracking down his sold-away and only living parent Rosie Lee. Keeping his goal before him like the fixed North Star, he travels for months from Mobile to the “worn-down toes of the Appalachian Mountains,” following vague leads from sympathetic listeners and offices of the Freedman’s Bureau, enduring hardships and disappointment. Applying paint in thickly brushed impasto, Shepherd views Gabe’s world and encounters from a child’s-eye height but gives the barefoot, raggedly clad boy a look of hard-won maturity that points to past sorrows and underscores the depth of his determination. His distinct voice will draw readers into caring about his quest and sharing the tide of joy that accompanies his ultimate success: “That night, I slept snuggled up tight with my mama, praying for all those boys like me searching for their mamas who be searching for them.”

A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-933693-97-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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