FROM THE BELLYBUTTON OF THE MOON

AND OTHER SUMMER POEMS

With the alternate title, Del Ombligo de la Luna y otros poemas de verano, this exuberant collection, in both English and Spanish, is illustrated in bold, brilliant swathes of color that recall Mexican folk art and textiles. Each poem sits near its twin, and it’s fun, even for non-Spanish speakers, to compare the two versions and learn the words. Most are simple and celebratory: the sound of a dog’s bark in the two languages; a favorite cow named Mariposa; the joys of an aunt’s breakfast. Alarc¢n celebrates summers spent with relatives in Mexico, where a grandmother taught him that Mexico is Aztec for “bellybutton of the moon.” Some poems, such as “Water Wheel/Rueda Agua” and “Sea/Mar” are shaped on their accompanying image. A few, such as “Girasol/Sunflower,” are tiny and perfect in either language: “algo/de flor/algo/de sol” translates to “somewhat/a flower/somehow/a sun.” Ideal for summer story hours or warm reminiscing all winter long. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-89239-153-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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There’s always tomorrow.

TOMORROW IS WAITING

A lyrical message of perseverance and optimism.

The text uses direct address, which the title- and final-page illustrations suggest comes from an adult voice, to offer inspiration and encouragement. The opening spreads reads, “Tonight as you sleep, a new day stirs. / Each kiss good night is a wish for tomorrow,” as the accompanying art depicts a child with black hair and light skin asleep in a bed that’s fantastically situated in a stylized landscape of buildings, overpasses, and roadways. The effect is dreamlike, in contrast with the next illustration, of a child of color walking through a field and blowing dandelion fluff at sunrise. Until the last spread, each child depicted in a range of settings is solitary. Some visual metaphors falter in terms of credibility, as in the case of a white-appearing child using a wheelchair in an Antarctic ice cave strewn with obstacles, as the text reads “you’ll explore the world, only feeling lost in your imagination.” Others are oblique in attempted connections between text and art. How does a picture of a pale-skinned, black-haired child on a bridge in the rain evoke “first moments that will dance with you”? But the image of a child with pink skin and brown hair scaling a wall as text reads “there will be injustice that will challenge you, and it will surprise you how brave you can be” is clearer.

There’s always tomorrow. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99437-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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