Summary: This moving picture book offers a shining testament to the ability of human beings to find "something beautiful" in even the most unlikely places. An African American girl initially sees only the ugliness of her neighborhood. There is "trash in the courtyard and a broken bottle that looks like fallen stars." On her front door, someone has scrawled the word "DIE," and a homeless lady "sleeps on the sidewalk, wrapped in plastic." Searching for something beautiful?"something that when you have it, your heart is happy"?she polls various neighbors. For an old man it is the touch of a smooth stone; for Miss Delphine, it's the taste of the fried fish sandwich in her diner; for Aunt Carolyn, it's the sound of her baby's laugh. When the girl decides to create her own "something beautiful," she picks up the trash, scrubs her door clean and realizes, "I feel powerful." Wyeth's (Always My Dad) restrained text is thoughtful without being didactic. She creates a city landscape that is neither too dark nor too sweet; and her ending is just right, with the heroine's mother saying that her daughter is her "something beautiful." Soentpiet's (Peacebound Trains) paintings are luminously lifelike. Whether depicting the girl running past a chain-link fence in a dark alley or Miss Delphine's patrons sitting beneath the rows of glinting glasses, the paintings focus on a community with characters so real, readers can almost feel the sunlight on their faces. All ages. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Classroom Implications: This book resonates with urban community members and echos the salient point of community action. It offers a different perspective to preserving our environment by marking the importance of preserving ALL environments. It combines concepts of community organizing, social action and environmentalism. I also like the cover because it implies finding beauty in personal identities, as well as communities. This is an important image for our students to see, view and discuss, especially in regards to how community identity mirrors personal identity.
Summary: Publishers Weekly: At first glance, this is a collection of four unrelated stories, each occupying a quarter of every two-page spread, and each a slight enough tale to seem barely worth a book--a boy on a train, parents in a funny mood, a convict's escape and a late commuter train. The magic of Black and White comes not from each story, however, but from the mysterious interactions between them that creates a fifth story. Several motifs linking the tales are immediately apparent, such as trains--real and toy--and newspapers. A second or third reading reveals suggestions of the title theme: Holstein cows, prison uniform stripes. Eventually, the stories begin to merge into a surrealistic tale spanning several levels of reality, e.g.: Are characters in one story traveling on the toy train in another? Answers are never provided--this is not a mystery or puzzle book. Instead, Black and White challenges the reader to use text and pictures in unexpected ways...no other writer for adults or children explores this unusual territory the way Macaulay does. All ages. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Classroom Implications: This post modern text requires sophisticated reading strategies for students to synthesize the information presented in the text. Multiple plotlines interweave simultaneously and blend together using the actual text and the illustrations. One suggested teaching point is to assign groups of students one plot to follow, therefore kids can jigsaw the story together (this aids with synthesizing).
Summary: Two-time Caldecott Medalist Van Allsburg reaches a new pinnacle of excellence in both illustration and storytelling in his latest work. Since his first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, appeared just over a decade ago, he has spun many strange and fantastic modern fairy tales, all of which spill over the edge of reality into magnificent dreamscapes. Here Van Allsburg introduces Walter, a boy who imagines the future as a marvelous time, with tiny airplanes that can be parked on the roof of your house and robots that take care of all your work for you. In the present, however, Walter is a litterbug who can't be bothered to sort the trash for recycling and laughs at Rose, the girl next door, because she receives a sapling for her birthday. One night, when Walter goes to sleep, his bed travels to the future. But he finds neither tiny airplanes nor robots, only piles of trash covering the street where he used to live, acres and acres of stumps where forests used to stand, rows and rows of great smokestacks belching out acrid smoke, and many other environmental nightmares. Van Allsburg renders each of these chilling scenarios in elaborate, superbly executed two-page spreads that echo the best work of M. C. Escher and Winsor McKay (creator of the Little Nemo comic strips). Walter and his bed land right in the middle of the action in each of these hallucinatory paintings, heightening the visual impact and forcing a hard look at the devastation surrounding Van Allsburg's protagonist. An awakened Walter, jolted by his dream, changes his ways: he begins to sort the trash and, like Rose, plants a tree for his birthday. Then his bed takes him to a different future, one where people tend their lawns with powerless mowers and where the trees he and Rose have planted stand tall and strong beneath a blue sky. Not only are Just a Dream 's illustrations some of the most striking Van Allsburg has ever created, but the text is his best yet. Van Allsburg has sacrificed none of the powerful, otherworldly spirit that suffuses his earlier works, and he has taken a step forward by bringing this spirit to bear on a vitally important issue. His fable builds to an urgent plea for action as it sends a rousing message of hope. All ages. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Cross Curricular Connections: This is really a book with an environmental twist. This fantasy picture book would make a nice pair with Home or Window by Jeannie Baker.
Summary: Grade 3 Up-Another quietly bizarre and stunning picture book from Van Allsburg. In this modern fairy tale, a Parisian dentist (a prissy and sadistic man who even hates his own dog) is given two magic figs by an old woman who tells him, "'They can make your dreams come true.'" Bibot scoffs. However, after the first fig proves to do exactly that (in a scene in which the dentist walks down the street in his underwear, and then the Eiffel Tower droops over), he realizes how precious they are. Night after night, he hypnotizes himself into dreaming that he is the richest man on earth. Finally, he prepares to eat the second fig. But his dog, Marcel, beats him to it, and the following morning, the dentist wakes up as the helpless pup under a bed, with his own face calling to him, "'Time for your walk. Come to Marcel.'" The Sweetest Fig is a superb blend of theme, language, and illustration, with a very grabbing plot as well. The writing is formal yet direct, using simple, deliberate vocabulary to match the elegant setting and mood. The shades of gray, cream, and brown and the calm, stable design enhance this mood. The angle at which readers view scenes is always intriguing and heightens their involvement. Most children old enough to read this complex book on their own will be fascinated and will return to it again and again. Van Allsburg at his best.
Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Classroom Implications: This text is great to teach point of view and perspective due to the sudden shift at the end of the book. It also lends itself well to characterization and cause and effect concepts.
Classroom Implications: The book is set up with a long author's note to the reader, thereby creating a very "real" feeling for this fictitious book. I've used this book over and over when teaching short stories and have ALWAYS led on that the story is "real" with my middle schoolers. They instantly become intrigued with the mystery and look forward to writing stories that accompany the illustration and the quotes. This text is a fantastic wordless fantasy book that serves as inspiration for writing projects in the classroom!
Classroom Implications: This is a great companion piece with Baker's other book, Window. It takes the opposite look at development and the environment. It starts with an urban decay of a scene. With time, care, and community effort, the city-scape transforms into something beautiful. It would also be a picture book to support Paul Fleishman's book Seedfolks, which is based on social action, community and gardening.
Sequel Information: Re-Zoom
Summary: From Publishers Weekly:Re-Zoom resumes, or more accurately, reprises, the layout and nothing-is-as-it-seems perspective of last season's Zoom. Featuring detailed drawings backpainted on animation cels, this text-free volume opens with a red-on-blue cave painting that, with the turn of a page, becomes a detail on a wristwatch. The next spread reveals that the watch belongs to a young man doing a rubbing of carved hieroglyphs... and so on. To surprise his audience, which may already expect the sequence of pictures to expand to infinity, as in Zoom, Banyai toys not only with spatial relations but with time and with cultural referents: people in 19th-century garb, admiring an image of Napoleon, turn out to be on a movie set; a woman in traditional Japanese dress sports a yellow Walkman. There are nods to the arts as well. A black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock and a blue bodhisattva sit astride a thundering elephant, and a dejected-looking Picasso rides the New York City subway. The finale-which leaves readers in a subway tunnel as the train's red taillights recede-may not be as mindbending as Zoom's outer-space flight, but is nonetheless a clever solution. All ages. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Notable Information: This text would be most efficiently used in an upper grade classroom. The way the story builds off of the perspective shifts is highly complex. It is a highly usable text to teach perspective, point of view and symbolism. The Other Side would also pair nicely with a writing activity based around the perspectives of the text. Students could also develop complex conceptual ideas that could become literary essays.
Summary: Kindergarten and Up: In this wordless mind trip for tots, Lehman develops a satisfying fantasy in a series of panels framed with thick white borders. The effect is of peering through portals, an experience shared by the characters as they independently stumble across enchanted red books that provide them with a videophone-like connection. Though wordless picture books often seem to be the province of fine artists indulging in high-concept braggadocio (as in Istvan Banyai's 1995 Zoom), Lehman's effort ensures child appeal with an unaffected drawing style and a simple, easy-to-follow story line about a friendship forged between a city girl and a faraway island boy. The message about the transporting power of story will moisten the eyes of many adult readers, but children will most appreciate the thought-provoking visuals, in which characters' actions influence the course of their own storybook narratives--likewise affecting the larger "red book," cleverly packaged to mimic the shape and color of its fictional counterpart. Ideal for fueling creative-writing exercises. Jennifer Mattson Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Classroom Implications: This post-modern, book within a book, plays with perspective like Flotsam or Zoom. The Red Book deconstructs the common picture book motif, where the characters seem to affect and create the story as the pages turn. The wonderful teaching point this book carries is that character's actions influence the course of the story. This is an essential element of reading and writing to expose students to in the classroom. Kids in the upper grades can take advantage of this wordless text and use the pictures to create their own story.
Curricular Connections: This text can be used in a science classroom where students study the effect of development on indigenous ecosystems. It is a crucial outlook and environmental perspective that should be support with today's youth.
Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a true story of the Holocaust in comic form--the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs--Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you are forced to examine the Holocaust anew.
This is neither easy nor pleasant. However, Vladek Spiegelman and his wife Anna are resourceful heroes, and enough acts of kindness and decency appear in the tale to spur the reader onward (we also know that the protagonists survive, else reading would be too painful). This first volume introduces Vladek as a happy young man on the make in pre-war Poland. With outside events growing ever more ominous, we watch his marriage to Anna, his enlistment in the Polish army after the outbreak of hostilities, his and Anna's life in the ghetto, and then their flight into hiding as the Final Solution is put into effect. The ending is stark and terrible, but the worst is yet to come--in the second volume of this Pulitzer Prize-winning set. --Michael Gerber
Notable Information: This text has the power to convert the non-reader of graphic novels to an avid one! Reviewer after reviewer will testify that he or she sat down to begin the book and didn't get up until they finished. Middle and high school students can experience this, too. By starting them off with reading American Born Chinese, some will be ready to move onto this heavier, more mature text. The text is highly political while still managing to focus on the individual growth and development of the narrator. The reader has to rely heavily on reading between the lines of this text, as well as the illustrations in order to gain the full understanding of the story. Therefore, graphic novels, such as this one, create a rich environment to work on the tough reading and thinking skills of inference and interpretation.
Sequel: Perspepolis II
This sequel begins where the first left off and chronicles the older years of Marji's life. This sequel presents a different subset of issues and best suits high school readers. Be advised: if this book sits next to the first one, the reader will immediately pick it up to find out what happened where the first left off!
Book Preview: From the Publisher: Poor Marie! Every night as she climbed into bed, she got a visit from three monsters. They only came out in darkness, so she knew they must be afraid of the light. Marie took a huge pair of scissors, and cutting the moon out of the sky, hung it right in her bedroom. No darkness, no monsters!
Her plan worked perfectly, or so she thought . . . but without a moon in the sky, the village cats were in total darkness! They began bumping into everything, and winding up in the hospital. With no cats to chase them, the mice ran amuck. Finally the king found Marie: "You must return the moon to the sky!" he said. But Marie wouldn't agree--not until she was sure those monsters were gone. How could the king make things right for everyone? A delightful tall tale for bedtime or anytime.
Book Review: Children's Literature :Marie has fun all day, but the nights are another story. For then, "three of the scariest monsters who ever lived would come out from the shadows" to torture her. One night, Marie decides that the night monsters must be afraid of the light. She decides to bring the moon, which lights up the night, into her room. After she cuts it out of the sky and puts it in a cage over her bed, the monsters no longer bother her. But with the moon missing, cats all over the village have accidents in the dark, while the rascally rats begin to ruin the town. The Cat King negotiates with Marie. For the release of the moon, Marie receives a cat to guard her bed every night. The charming, imaginative story finds appropriate accompaniment in the very simple illustrations that need few details. Black outlines amusingly depict Marie, the melancholy felines, and the happily cavorting rats. The Cat King is properly regal; the three monsters are a multicolored trio of grimacing bullies whose sharply pointed shadows are menacing. The final picture is a peaceful view of a sleeping Marie and a cat with a watching eye open, and the moon back in the sky.
Notable Information: This protagonist is reminiscent of Marji's voice in Satrapi's graphic memoir, Persepolis. Both are scared of the dark as little girls. This may be an interesting component to read across the two texts, imagining what the monsters might symbolize for the author after reading her memoir.
Summary: Grades 5-8 In artwork inspired by Indian miniatures, Demi fashions a folktale with far-reaching effects. The raja of a rice-growing village orders his subjects to deliver to him the bulk of their harvest; he will keep it safe should a famine occur. A few years later the harvest fails, and so does the raja: "Promise or no promise, a raja must not go hungry,'' he intones. When a young village girl, Rani, returns to the raja some rice that had fallen from baskets laden for his consumption, he offers her a reward. Her request is seemingly modest: a grain of rice on the first day, two grains the next, four grains on the third; each day double the rice of the day before, for 30 days. The raja, though, doesn't grasp the power of doubling. Day 21 garners 1,048,576 grains of rice; on the last day it takes fold-out flaps to show the herd of elephants necessary to convey the rice to Rani, who feeds the masses and extracts from the raja a promise to be more generous. This gratifying story of the disarming of greed provides an amazing look at the doubling process, and a calendar at the end shows how the reward simply grew and grew. (Picture book/folklore.) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Cross-Curricular Connections: Math is obvious counterpart to the instruction or reading of this book. Kids become captivated by the story, therefore captivated with the concept of doubling. Students can hypothesize around other aspects of their lives that my benefit from doubling, such as reading or writing.
Summary: K-Gr. 3. This companion to The Empty Pot (1990) continues the story of the life of Ping, the young emperor who wants to bring harmony to his kingdom. Ping sends all the children in the kingdom on a year-long quest to find the greatest power in the world, telling them, "A wise person must be able to see the unseen and know the unknown." The boys believe the power is great weapons; the girls, great beauty; the students, great technology; and the practical children, great amounts of money. When the children come to show the emperor what they have discovered, the last child in line, a little girl named Sing, remembers Ping's words. She presents a lotus seed as the powerful force of eternal life, and Ping names her the new prime minister. The text and the handsomely designed, richly colored artwork, which is touched with gold leaf, are set within a circular motif that reinforces the idea of eternity. As usual, Demi ably combines striking artwork and a meaningful story, with quiet dignity and wisdom. Julie Cummins Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Classroom Application: This book has been critiqued by some reviewers to be too conceptually heavy for young readers. The book can be modified and presented in a more concrete way by using it as an instructional read aloud: the teacher focusing on heavy inferring and interpretation as the story unfolds. Students can use their prior knowledge of The Empty Pot to uncover the meaning of this text.
This book is great to be read critically because gender and other classification stereotypes are used to create the story (i.e. the girls saying that beauty is the greatest power).
Summary: Grade 1-3-- When the Chinese emperor proclaims that his successor will be the child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds the emperor distributes, Ping is overjoyed. Like the emperor, he loves flowers and anything he plants bursts into bloom. But the emperor's seed will not grow, despite months of loving care, and Ping goes before the emperor carrying only his empty pot. The emperor ignores the beautiful blossoms brought by the other children and chooses Ping, revealing that the seeds he handed out had been cooked and could not grow. This simple story with its clear moral is illustrated with beautiful paintings.
Each page contains a single picture, shaped like a stiff, rounded, paper fan and framed in celadon brocade that subtly changes pattern from one spread to the next. Isometric perspective, traditional Chinese architecture, and landscape motifs are combined with Demi's fine line and lively children and animals. While all the landscapes featuring the emperor and the other children are in brilliant red, gold, and purple, the scenes involving Ping alone are predominantly beige and delicate green. Ping is almost always shown as a solitary figure in contrast to the busy groups of running, smiling children, reinforcing the portrait of him as a quieter, more contemplative person whose values make him a worthy heir to the emperor. A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as for the simplicity of its story. --Eleanor K. MacDonald, Beverly Hills Public Library Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc
Notable Information: This is a beautiful book to teach theme and the moral of stories. In this story, Ping stays true to himself and in the end, is rewarded. IT is a remarkable story that children and adults will latch onto and want to read again and again.
The fear of the dark, wind and storms is gently confronted in this imaginative story for children. The dark becomes deep water, movement the swimming of a whale, and wind a part of the mystery of the sea, thereby replacing the fearful with the imaginative. A delightful tale, with fabulously realized illustrations, SHH! THE WHALE IS SMILING comes very highly recommended.
Summary: Grades 3-6 In this long bedtime mood-piece, a little girl, Firen, accuses the moon of taking her sleep; she resolves to "go out in the night and find it.'' Outside, a moonbeam lands in her hands and becomes a magic flute with which she flies through the night. She encounters creatures of town, sea, and jungle in a dreamlike sequence illustrated in deep greens, blues, and violet. Firen herself has a pixie-ish, flower-fairy look, and is silvery-shiny with moonlight. Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public LibraryCopyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Notable Information: This is another dream-like fantasy text that can open the doors into the genre of fantasy. The text is long and more like a short story with illustrations. With this in mind, it makes a stronger text to use in the upper elementary grade classrooms.
Summary: As in her earlier Grandfather Twilight, Berger has created a picture book dreamscape, full of radiant colors and intriguing possibilities. Alone with her doll in a playhouse, the young narrator receives an unusual visitor who comes calling "in a carriage bright as the sun." The visitor's consort is a lemon-yellow lion who dines on blueberries and cream as the two girls play dolls and paint a rainbow. At day's end, the visitor departs into a glowing sunset, promising to return. Berger's skillful blending of the metaphysical and a child's inner life make this an inspired work of art. Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Notable Information: This makes a good book to deeply talk about the lasting effects that friendship can have on people.
Summary: Grade 1 Up: Beginning with the A formed by a construction site's sawhorse and ending with the Z found in the angle of a fire escape, Johnson draws viewers' eyes to tiny details within everyday objects to find letters. In this wordless tour of sights from Times Square to the Brooklyn Bridge, he invites young and old alike to take a new look at familiar surroundings, discovering the alphabet without ever looking in a book or reading from a sign. Conceived in the tradition of Ann Jonas's work, especially The Thirteenth Clue (Greenwillow, 1992), Johnson's pastel, watercolor, gouache, and charcoal paintings are much more realistic than his illustrations for The Samurai's Daughter (Dial, 1992); in fact, they are almost photographic in appearance. Some of the images are both clever and incredibly clear, e.g., the E found in the sideways view of a traffic light. Others, such as the C in the rose window of a Gothic church, are more obscure. Nevertheless, all of the paintings are beautifully executed and exhibit a true sense of artistic vision. While parents or teachers might assume from the title that this is a traditional alphabet book, they should be encouraged to look at it as an art book. It's sure to inspire older children to venture out on their own walks to discover the alphabet in the familiar objects of their own hometowns. Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RICopyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Notable Information: This is a fantastic mix of art, alphabet and wordless picture book! Best used with students already accustomed with the alphabet. Kids can play hide and go seek with the city of New York!
Notable Information: This is a great mix between poetry, mystery, and the alphabet. A great pick for an advanced alphabet book in the intermediate grades.
Summary: Celebration is among Miss Spider's friends, and this primer shows party preparations in progress from A to Z: "Bumblebees blow balloons./ Caterpillars circle/ dragonfly decorations." All sorts of insects assist, from moths whose white- and black-spotted wings resemble velvety floor-length capes to termites who tote colorful wrapped presents in their mandibles. At the end of the sequence, Miss Spider floats in on the back of a striped Zebra butterfly and receives a welcoming shout of "Happy Birthday!" from the buggy assembly. Kirk (Miss Spider's New Car) sets the activity in a flowery garden and a hornets' nest; he substitutes gently waving antennae for paper streamers in the closing scene. His dew-bright oil paintings glow with the fluorescent yellow-green of fandango-ing fireflies, shades of backlit midnight-blue and lush lavender-rose hues. Each oversize letter of the alphabet appears near the text, so that readers have an easy reference point as they scan the vivid artwork. Devotees will detect their returning favorites: Holley hides among the "smiling spiders" taking shelter beneath the red roses, and May and Ike greet the termites beside the "very vivid violets." Kirk's witty rhymes and the ever polite Miss Spider's hostessing talents are absent this time around, but the juiced-up, color-saturated illustrations are thrilling all the same. Ages 4-7. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Notable Information: I would use this book with students already familiar with the alphabet system. It proves more rewarding for students to manipulate the letters and see things differently. This book also received the award for Ala Notable Children's Books for Younger Readers in 2004.
Classroom Implications: An idea for this book would be to pair it with other Maya Angelou's poems. Her poetry tends to be widely popular with middle school aged girls. This would be an excellent way to see her poetry different due to the picture book format.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Classroom Implications: This book does not as strong of a story line as previous books by hooks, yet it still captures the love shared in a family. This story is about unconditional love, a subject that many students can identify or disidentify with based on their own experiences.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Classroom Implications: The poet and the artist who created Happy to be Nappy! (1999) and Be Boy Buzz (2002) take on another big identity issue with exuberant, playful imagery that will open discussion. The simple words spell out the overt message ("If you want to know who I am / you have got to come / inside"), and the pictures move from big, full-page portraits of kids with various skin colors to patchwork-style pages showing all the shifting bits and pieces inside each individual. Raschka's images, in many colors and shapes, shows everything from active children; winging birds; and a smiling snake to arms reaching out and dancing feet. The art vividly celebrates history and the realism, fun, and fantasy inside each one of us--the dreams of "all the way I imagine me." This is about skin color, but it's also about diversity within a group and within one child, and about finding the story inside the stereotype. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This stunning volume celebrates all things boy. The creators of Happy to Be Nappy set the stage with the bold opening sortie: "I be boy" appears on the left of the spread, paired with a deceptively simple layering of rectangles in blue line that pulsates on the page; opposite, a thoughtful-looking fellow, all elbows and knees slightly bent, seems poised for action. This spare, poetic riff on young manhood plumbs the delights and contradictions of what it means to be a boy particularly an African-American boy in a brief handful of sentences and with a few well-placed pastel lines that imply motion and emotion. From boys soaring ("All bliss boy") to boys sulking ("All bad boy beast" here Raschka conveys the mood with just the right-hand side of a furrowed brow, and two arms seemingly blocking readers from view), at play ("I be boy jumping") and at rest ("all think and dream time"), the words pinpoint boyhood's unflagging energy and exuberance, vulnerability ("Hug me close. Don't let me down") and attitude. Hooks's rhythmic blend of brevity and eloquence launches Raschka's trademark visual haiku. His series of watercolor and pastel portraits set off against a warm cappuccino backdrop conjures fingers and toes, features and squiggles of hair from simple sweeps of his brush, and evokes characters suffused with humanity and tenderness. The graceful design visually balances the spare text, lively portraits and geometric graphics which harmoniously orbit the spreads. This life-affirming book will have readers as much "in love with being a boy" as are its own utterly irresistible characters. Ages 4-8. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Classroom Implications: This book poetically celebrates masculine identities. The language is descriptive, the images vivid, and the message clear: love all and every side of you! A nice addition to have in the library, especially for young male readers.
|Reviewer:||BeatleBangs1964 (United States) -|
Keyana, the child narrator describes the care her hair requires; her mother rubs coconut oil into her scalp to help the comb glide through it. Her mother applies rich poetic descriptions to Keyana's hair; she tells Keyana every time she corn rows it, it is like planting a beautiful garden; when she combs it out into a big, beautiful Afro, it is a globe as round as the world that contains everybody; she tells Keyana she can spin it like silk the way their ancestors spun silk on a loom. Each description is accompanied by a lovely picture showing the mother's vision; for example, when she applies the silk comparison, Keyana is drawn with her beautiful hair being spun on a loom.
Keyana herself celebrates her natural beauty, hair and all and takes pride in the myriad of hairstyles her thick, curly hair will allow her to try. I like the way she said that the hair styling sessions were a time of mother-daughter bonding and the illustrations are first rate.This is a book all parents and educators will want to use to promote self pride among all children, particularly children who are black. This book celebrates the beauty of being human. It is for everybody. I love this book!
Classroom Implication: This book pairs nicely with Happy to be Nappy and Nappy Hair, both books that praise African and Black American hair. This read aloud approaches the subject gently and could spark a nice conversation of what it means to celebrate identity.
Classroom Implication: A critical book at this time, bell hooks advocates for self-love and acceptance of individuality. She works to reclaim a term that has been used derogatorily and breeches the subject delicately through poetic texts. This picture book could pair nicely with identity-based novels, such as The Skin I'm In.
Walker (The Color Purple; Finding the Green Stone) praises the surroundings that fortify the human experience. In her vision, people do not work their will on the things around them, but rather the people and the universe influence each other: "There is a flower/ At the tip/ Of my nose/ Smelling/ Me./ There is a sky/ At the end/ Of my/ Eye/ Seeing/ Me." Vitale (When the Wind Stops) paints great swaths of sunset sky that glow from the horizon, illuminating the serene face of a dreaming girl who looks as if she would be at home anywhere. "There is a dance/ That lives/ In my bones/ Dancing/ Me," reads the text, as the heroine, charged from within by streams of incandescent energy, leaps and sways in swirls of sunlight that stream out from her fingertips. "There is a story/ At the end/ Of my arms," Walker concludes, "Telling/ Me!" Now a rainbow falls over the girl's face, and creation holds out marvelous possibilities. Smaller versions of herself surround the girl in a frieze: in these miniature images she flies, dives into the waves with a fish and climbs the leaves of an enormous white flower to kiss its face. It's less a story than an illuminated prayer"an expression of gratitude for one girl, all humans and the whole of the cosmos. All ages. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Classroom Implications: In the author's note in the back of the book, Alice Walker writes that this book began as a thank-you note. Students would really latch onto this concept. This text extends the idea of gratitude and shifts to a more universal way of looking at things. Middle school students may use this as a mentor text to inspire a new kind of writing that originates from a different, more universal perspective.