A lovely, comforting, and wide-reaching tale about finding similarities in children regardless of their cultures, marred by...

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WHAT DO YOU CALL IT?

Children around the world may speak different languages, but pacifiers remain a cross-cultural item, according to this tale for toddlers.

Lewinson (Hands, 2015, etc.) opens the story in Mexico, where young Maria and her doll (muñeca) both suck on their chupones. Next, blond-haired, green-eyed Sarah from the United States shows how she can avoid eating her spaghetti by sucking on her “paci.” Swedish Niles takes a nap with his napp while dreaming of playing hide-and-seek (kurragömma). Each setting features a child, the word for pacifier in that kid’s language, and another word from the youngster’s culture. Lewinson and illustrator Griffin (Spacing Out!, 2015, etc.) feature boys and girls in similar proportion, though children with blond hair have a somewhat lopsided representation. Lewinson highlights nations worldwide, including Israel, Russia, Germany, Australia, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and India. The overall message of finding connections across the boundaries of geography and language rings clear, even for young lap readers, who are likely to see at least one child in the text who provides them with a mirror. The structure is easy for children to grasp, and the beautiful images, particularly the ones featuring a boy dreaming of flying on a magic carpet and a girl riding on an elephant, are appealing. But while the text tells readers that Niles is dreaming about hide-and-seek, the picture shows sheep jumping over a fence. In addition, Lewinson’s choice of spellings for non-English words is mystifying. He relies on phonetic spellings rather than depicting the actual words, which are likely to aid adults and very early readers in sounding out unfamiliar terms. Unfortunately, the text doesn’t show features of the languages, such as tildes and acute accents, making the words unrecognizable to many readers. Likewise, Griffin’s children, while wonderfully realistic and diverse, tend to be on the old side to be using pacifiers. German Simone, playing tag with her friends, looks like an early elementary student rather than a preschooler, and Irit from Israel is described in the text as a kindergartner. For parents trying to wean their children off pacifiers before they attend school, these examples are problematic.

A lovely, comforting, and wide-reaching tale about finding similarities in children regardless of their cultures, marred by some strange choices in language presentation and the ages of its cast.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9853602-5-2

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Swordpen Publishers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2017

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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