AFGHAN DREAMS

YOUNG VOICES OF AFGHANISTAN

A photojournalist and a filmmaker visit “a country at war with itself and a country that has been a pawn in the wars of imperial interests for centuries” and return with compelling portraits of 35 of its boys and girls. Ranging from eight to 18, the Afghani children are photographed in a soft light, exhibiting expressions from pensive to joyful and usually posed face-on so they gaze directly up at viewers. Most look older than their years; some display scars or other (healed) injuries; all have been touched in by violence. Their accompanying remarks, in the form of answers to questions about schooling, families and wishes for the future, are revealing, though couched in language that echoes the formality of the portraits: “I have been working as a thief for twenty days, stealing from people’s pockets. I’ve done it ten times, it’s true, ten times in twenty days. I want my real father to come back, I want my sisters and brothers, and I want a house,” says 10-year-old Wahaab. The goofy grin of 13-year-old Najmudin in the final photo lightens the solemnity but strengthens the overall message that these resilient young folk haven’t lost their hope of better things to come. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59990-287-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2008

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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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