An idea-inspiring addition to the burgeoning genre of environmentally conscientious children’s books. Young readers will...

THE BICYCLE FENCE

TRASH TO TREASURE SERIES: RECYCLING CREATIVELY WITH L.T

The first installation of Noll’s environmental picture-book series centers on a boy and father who imaginatively transform others’ discarded objects into functional items.

Young L.T., short for “Little Tommy,” often accompanies his father to the junkyard. Illustrator Fall’s boldly colored graphic illustrations depict L.T. and his father in their “junkyard truck,” (assembled with recycled parts) arriving at a heaping pile of castoff bicycles, television sets, guitars, teddy bears, and more. A maniacally enthusiastic “Recycleville” keeper, Mr. Salvage, perches on top of the pile. What others perceive as trash, L.T.’s father envisions as pieces of treasure. Though L.T. is less than enthused by the secondhand aesthetic of their truck and other items, his teacher, Miss White, helps him realize the positive environmental impact of reusing materials. This concept may be a little abstract for some young readers, particularly since the book doesn’t explain how recycling benefits the Earth, but this omission may provide an opening for parents or caretakers to explain. When L.T.’s father suggests they build a bike out of recycled mismatching parts, L.T. is concerned about the appearance of his ride. Ultimately, L.T. sets an example for young readers by respecting his father’s lessons while creatively achieving his own vision. Fall’s lively depictions show L.T.’s face lighting up as he realizes he can paint the bike a uniform white. L.T. even makes the most of his ugly bike helmet by wearing a hat on top. L.T. continues to be inspired by his father’s inventiveness, always finding a solution for challenges by recycling. As an endnote, Noll offers the young reader a list of 15 easy ways to reduce environmental impact, recycle, and save energy. Additionally, Noll provides environmental awareness fliers, coloring pages with Fall’s illustrations, and more to encourage the young environmental activist.

An idea-inspiring addition to the burgeoning genre of environmentally conscientious children’s books. Young readers will learn about compromise as well as innovative ways to recycle.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1939377500

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Green Kids Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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