A taste of wilderness of yore to whet the appetites of future fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louise Erdrich and Kirkpatrick...

MY WILDERNESS

AN ALASKAN ADVENTURE

“When I was nine years old, I lived one winter on Fox Island, with my father, an old trapper named Olson, six blue fox, a family of angora goats, and Squirlie. This is what happened.”

So begins an imaginary memoir, based on the records of Rockwell Kent III and his artist father. Artwork reminiscent of Mary Azarian’s graces pages that begin with the son noting that his father wanted to go to Alaska to paint. “We pleaded with Mother until she said yes. Squirlie came too.” In September 1918, father, son and toy squirrel travel by train, steamship and rowboat to get to the remote island, where they renovate an old shed. Now the outdoor adventures begin. Three well-calculated pairs of suspenseful rectos followed by a harmless, concluding page turn keep readers riveted while meting out facts. As the boy heads down a trail, he hears noises that he knows could be a grizzly bear. The page turn reveals a beautiful black-inked portrait of a porcupine. The woodcuts capture the joys of playing in the snow, the warmth of stories by lamplight, occasional loneliness and the hazards of a storm at sea. Readers may be forgiven for thinking that Rocky is a girl before they reach the author’s note, as he looks androgynous in the illustrations.

A taste of wilderness of yore to whet the appetites of future fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louise Erdrich and Kirkpatrick Hill. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-57061-950-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A resplendent masterpiece.

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DREAMERS

Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.

This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”

A resplendent masterpiece. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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