Another compelling version of an inspiring story.

NOT MY GIRL

Ten-year-old Olemaun describes her return from two years at the outsiders’ school and her slow re-entry into her family’s Inuit world.

When Olemaun (co-author Pokiak-Fenton) returns to her family, both her mother and her father’s dogs fail to recognize her. She’s grown tall and skinny, her hair has been cut short, she has a different smell. She no longer understands the family’s language and finds the food inedible. Her best friend isn’t allowed to play with her anymore. Appropriately for the young audience, the authors deal gently with the child’s trauma, showing how, in every case, things get better. The skills Olemaun acquired at school help her nurse a puppy she mistakenly kept too long from its mother. And, she learns to drive a dog sled, making her own mother proud. As they did with Margaret’s boarding school years in When I Was Eight (2013), the authors have distilled the years covered in A Stranger at Home (2011) into a moving picture book. The first-person narrative is set against Grimard’s dramatic paintings, which depict family members shown in close-ups and wide-angle views that take in the dramatic scenery of northern Canada. The sky colors are particularly effective—the varying blues and orange of day and the reds and greens of the nighttime northern lights.

Another compelling version of an inspiring story. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-624-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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This reimagined telling has an engaging charm that rings true.

KAFKA AND THE DOLL

An imagining of an unlikely real-life episode in the life of absurdist Franz Kafka.

Theule follows the outline of the account: When Kafka meets an unhappy girl in a Berlin park in 1923 and learns her doll is lost, Kafka writes a series of letters from Soupsy, the doll, to Irma, the girl. The real letters and the girl’s identity have been lost to history; the invented letters describe a dazzling variety of adventures for Soupsy. Unfortunately, as the letters increase in excitement, Kafka’s health declines (he would die of tuberculosis in June 1924), and he must find a way to end Soupsy’s adventures in a positive way. In an author’s note, readers learn that Kafka chose to write that Soupsy was getting married. Theule instead opts to send the doll on an Antarctic expedition. Irma gets the message that she can do anything, and the final image shows her riding a camel, a copy of Metamorphosis peeking from a satchel. While kids may not care about Kafka, the short relationship between the writer and the little girl will keep their interest. Realizing that an adult can care so much about a child met in the park is empowering. The stylized illustrations, especially those set in the chilly Berlin fall, resemble woodcuts with a German expressionist look. The doll’s adventures look a little sweeter, with more red and blue added to the brown palette of the German scenes. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 23% of actual size.)

This reimagined telling has an engaging charm that rings true. (biographical note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11632-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event.

LET THE CHILDREN MARCH

A vibrantly illustrated account of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade through the eyes of a young girl who volunteers to participate.

Morrison’s signature style depicts each black child throughout the book as a distinct individual; on the endpapers, children hold signs that collectively create a “Civil Rights and the Children’s Crusade” timeline, placing the events of the book in the context of the greater movement. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. comes to speak at her church, a girl and her brother volunteer to march in their parents’ stead. The narrative succinctly explains why the Children’s Crusade was a necessary logistical move, one that children and parents made with careful consideration and despite fear. Lines of text (“Let the children march. / They will lead the way // The path may be long and / troubled, but I’m gonna walk on!”) are placed within the illustrations in bold swoops for emphasis. Morrison’s powerful use of perspective makes his beautiful oil paintings even more dynamic and conveys the intensity of the situations depicted, including the children’s being arrested, hosed, and jailed. The child crusaders, regardless of how badly they’re treated, never lose their dignity, which the art conveys flawlessly. While the children win the day, such details as the Confederate flag subtly connect the struggle to the current day.

A powerful retrospective glimpse at a key event. (timeline, afterword, artist’s statement, quote sources, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-70452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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