The cupboard is nearly bare of children’s books about the DMZ, making this an excellent introduction to the crises on the...

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WHEN SPRING COMES TO THE DMZ

This bittersweet picture book walks through the four seasons at Korea’s heavily weaponized demilitarized zone, celebrating the nature that thrives there while mourning the human cost of this border wall.

Although the story does not even define or discuss the DMZ or the Korean War, colorful illustrations reveal to young readers the long fences of razor wire hugging a beautiful mountainside. But because no humans are allowed in this 2.5-mile-wide, 150-mile-long buffer zone, the area has unintentionally become a nature sanctuary. The water deer, striped salmon, and mountain goats know no limitations to their habitat, crossing borders, swimming under barbed wire, and nesting near land mines. Their freedom, together with many references to home and family, stand in stark contrast to the military exercises that have continued through the cease-fire since 1953. Lee views this irony through the character of elderly Grandfather, who makes his way to the wall every season, gazing longingly upon his inaccessible former homeland. A foldout reveal at book’s end is symbolic of the hope of a reunified Korea, with a simple reunion embrace representing the dreams of families separated since the 1950s. The endnote provides needed background along with a plea for peace and freedom.

The cupboard is nearly bare of children’s books about the DMZ, making this an excellent introduction to the crises on the Korean Peninsula as well as a great choice for social justice collections, peace promoters, and animal lovers. (Picture book. 4-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-87486-972-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Plough

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A masterful salute to fatherhood.

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MY DADDY RULES THE WORLD

POEMS ABOUT FATHERS

A collection of poetry that celebrates dads and all they do with and for their children.

The 15 poems collected here focus mostly on the tiny moments that mean so much to children and are remembered years later—the Sunday breakfasts shared between parent and child, the way dad dances his daughter around on his feet, the wrestling matches and playing catch, learning to ride a two-wheeler, and reading books together. A few are more generic: comparing dad to various animals, dad’s snoring, a cheer for dad, and one that looks at the many jobs dads have, though the narrator’s has the best—he stays at home. The line breaks and rhyme schemes make the poems accessible to those reading aloud, and the diverse array of people depicted, most of color, and different combinations (several father-and-child pairs are not of the same race) ensure that readers will find at least one like themselves in these pages. The torn-paper collages (with a few added items for buttons, a watch face, and wire-rim glasses) with no inked details mean that faces are blank slates, so the bulk of the emotion has to come from body positioning, posture, and the relations between figures on a page; Smith has mastered this, conveying so much with tilting heads and embracing arms.

A masterful salute to fatherhood. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9189-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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