(author’s note, pronunciation guide, musical score) (Picture book/folktale. 5-9)

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SUBIRA SUBIRA

Adding a touch of magic, Mollel (My Rows and Piles of Coins, 1999, etc.) retells a traditional Tanzanian folktale about

the costs and pleasures of taming a wild-child younger brother. Saport's (All the Pretty Little Horses, 1999, etc.) pastels are so rich with deep blues, russets, golds, and ambers that they belie their name. Her illustrations flow across the spreads, masterfully supporting the story while adding mood and characterization. After Mother's death, Father takes a job that demands long hours. He assigns the care of Maulidi to older sister Tatu. Tatu has her hands full, and the only way she can handle Maulidi at first is with orders backed up by wrestling him to the ground when he disobeys, as he always does. Father is too weary to take immediate action, so Tatu seeks the aid of MaMzuka, a mysterious spirit woman who lives in the forest and responds only to song. MaMzuka hears Tatu's song, but her advice to pluck three whiskers from the lion and bring them to her terrifies the girl. Seemingly spellbound by Tatu's song that night, the lion requires more enchanting, which Tatu provides on the following night. When Tatu brings the whiskers to MaMzuka, the spirit woman discards them. "To change your brother, just remember how you got the whiskers," the spirit woman advises, and so fighting gives way successfully to patience, love, and song. A subtle message, which avoids didacticism through the simplicity of its language and the power of its illustrations.

(author’s note, pronunciation guide, musical score) (Picture book/folktale. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-91809-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2000

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AN AMISH YEAR

Readers follow a fourth grade Amish girl named Anna through the four seasons in a gentle tale from Ammon (An Amish Christmas, 1996, not reviewed). Perhaps in the spirit of Amish culture, the book does not engage reader through flashy illustrations or a kitschy plot. Instead, it offers a sense of serene assurance that arises from this community that is attempting to live according to its set of beliefs. Anna’s life, as with all Amish, revolves around the seasons, home, and farm. Hard work, milking the cows, tending the vegetable garden, and school take up most of her time, but that does not preclude fun; there is a time and place for everything in her life, including play when the work is done. Like the “English” (non-Amish), Anna and her friends enjoy softball, volleyball, flying kites, sledding, etc. Ammon makes Anna approachable, subtly revealing the similarities between her life and readers’ while illuminating the fundamentals of Amish culture. The well-researched, luminous illustrations resonate with the beauty of this life and are an integral part of the book. For a hurly-burly society, the notion of families gathering and caring for one another in an extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins is inviting and accessible. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82622-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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AUNT PITTY PATTY'S PIGGY

Aylesworth and McClintock (The Gingerbread Man, 1998) tackle the story of the old woman whose pig won’t go over the stile, hindering her from going home. Here, the fat piggy is purchased at the market, but when it arrives home, it won’t go through the gate. The old woman, in this case Aunt Pitty Patty, enlists her young niece Nelly to go fetch help. Nelly implores a dog to bite the pig, a stick to hit the dog, a fire to burn the stick, water to douse the fire, etc. All the while, the piggy is parked by the gate reciting, “No, no, no, I will not go.” Aylesworth’s addition of the rhyming refrain preserves some of the cadence of the traditional tale, while softening the verbs (“hit” instead of “beat,” the rope “ties” instead of “hangs,” the butcher is to “scare” instead of “kill”) usually associated with it. McClintock emphasizes expression over action, and employs the same dainty brown line and soft watercolor wash of this team’s previous book. (Picture book/folklore. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-89987-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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