RICE FROM HEAVEN

THE SECRET MISSION TO FEED NORTH KOREANS

This compelling debut will capture the interest of children and adults alike.

In a story based on the author’s own experiences, a young girl in South Korea takes on a covert mission of compassion.

Young Yoori and her appa (father) travel to the countryside for a church’s special project: to “send special balloons carrying rice over the border to North Korea.” Yoori tells readers how Appa escaped from North Korea and knows that “Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have enough food to eat.” Local villagers protest their actions, chanting “Don’t feed the enemy.” However Yoori’s passion and perseverance change a local boy’s initial resistance to cooperation. There is an abundant, even conspicuous use of rice metaphors and a few moments where the flow of the text seems abrupt. Yet these are very small flaws compared to the big picture: a fascinating story based on true events in an elementary-level book that directly addresses the current situation between North and South Korea. Korea-based artist Song uses digital illustrations with vivid colors and very detailed textures for the setting, with effects that sometimes approach three-dimensional, while keeping a hand-drawn style for the human characters. The release of the elongated balloons is a wondrous sight.

This compelling debut will capture the interest of children and adults alike. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0682-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

LOLA AND THE TROLL

Too idealistic by half.

A group of kids take a troll to task.

A troll named Tom lives in Lola’s neighborhood. In Rodriguez’s delicate artwork, he’s tall and bizarre looking, with party hats for ears and oven mitts over his hands, and as kids walk past, he holds up signs plastered with insulting messages tailored to what he sees. No one likes the troll, but his comments cut. Most try to avoid Tom, but a light-skinned girl named Lola takes the messages to heart and slowly changes herself in an attempt to avoid criticism. After Lola has a heartfelt conversation with a bookstore owner about how bullies are the ones who are really afraid, she and the other kids stand up to the troll, revealed to be a short, light-skinned boy who’s “new to this neighborhood” and “just wanted…attention.” Many pages are crammed full of text, and one central metaphor feels overexplained as Lola describes herself as “tall on the inside,” which is apparently “what counts.” This story attempts to deliver an old-fashioned message about bullying through the modern concept of an internet troll, but neither element works especially well in this earnest text that naïvely imagines that all conflicts can be resolved through conversation and that trolls can be scared away through honesty and confidence.

Too idealistic by half. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593527634

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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