In this easy-to-read Swiss import, a boy visits his grandfather and they have a chat about computers, but that's not all that happens in tale that succeeds on several levels. A spiffy purple laptop resides on nine-year-old Ollie's desk. His father sells computers and his mother attends a computer show. Only Grandpa is out of step, a fact that keeps coming up during the boy's visit. Finally Grandpa boasts of the knowledge of some ``very old'' computers, made locally, portable and running on solar power. He brings forth a sunflower seed, programmed with the plans for constructing a plant and information on when to stop growing. After Ollie processes this information, he's excited to take the knowledge—and a sunflower seed—home to his father. The story highlights the boy's first independent trip on the train, and also explores a potential rift in his relationship with the older man; Ollie is unwittingly smug about his high-tech proclivities, but Grandpa knows how to smooth the way. Scheffler also presents complex biological information in an elementary manner. The watercolors capably portray the home, train trip, and countryside, and details of a little dog's antics add humor to many scenes. (Fiction. 6-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55858-795-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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From the author of the Animorphs series comes this earnest novel in verse about an orphaned Sudanese war refugee with a passion for cows, who has resettled in Minnesota with relatives. Arriving in winter, Kek spots a cow that reminds him of his father’s herd, a familiar sight in an alien world. Later he returns with Hannah, a friendly foster child, and talks the cow’s owner into hiring him to look after it. When the owner plans to sell the cow, Kek becomes despondent. Full of wide-eyed amazement and unalloyed enthusiasm for all things American, Kek is a generic—bordering on insulting—stereotype. His tribe, culture and language are never identified; personal details, such as appearance and age, are vague or omitted. Lacking the quirks and foibles that bring characters to life, Kek seems more a composite of traits designed to instruct readers than an engaging individual in his own right. Despite its lackluster execution, this story’s simple premise and basic vocabulary make it suitable for younger readers interested in the plight of war refugees. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36765-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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