A timely, resonant, exceptional model of visual storytelling; the ironic title is a seaworthy companion to “a wing and a...

THE PAPER BOAT

A REFUGEE STORY

A refugee story features distinctive artwork honoring courage, kindness, and memory.

A child-centered retelling of one family’s escape from Communist-ruled Vietnam, this wordless picture book renders a harrowing experience through clever uses of paper craft. From the outset, a visual motif of ants is key in unfolding the story. Close-up views of a single child are juxtaposed against others of preoccupied adults standing by the same dinner table. No one eats; armored tanks drive past, hastening the family’s departure. Mother and child navigate darkness and heart-stopping moments, becoming lost, until ants appear in the moonlight and lead them to a body of water. As they await passage, mother folds a paper sailboat to distract the child. Later, ants board this paper craft and seem to travel for days in a dramatic montage that feels almost quaint until the page turn reveals increasingly hostile conditions, starting with a parching sun. Only some of the ants survive the ensuing sea gull attacks, thunderstorms, and violent waves, crystallizing for viewers of all ages the perilous journey confronting refugees. When the child’s family reappears, they have settled in a racially diverse metropolis and are seated for a sumptuous meal at home. There is much going on, and children will be compelled to return again and again to digest its story.

A timely, resonant, exceptional model of visual storytelling; the ironic title is a seaworthy companion to “a wing and a prayer.” (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-363-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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