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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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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