THE COOKCAMP

Sent, at five, to live with his grandmother in the wilds of northern Minnesota—where she is cook for nine rough men who are building a road from nowhere to nowhere (in case the vicissitudes of WW II should make it useful)—"the boy" experiences a brief, idyllic interlude tempered by longing for his mother, as well as by other carefully selected intrusions of reality. His grandmother is quintessentially accepting and, better yet, sensible and imaginative: she gives him real work to do helping her prepare meals, tells him how to make friends with the chipmunks, makes a game of exploring her sewing box. The men, whose awesome size Paulsen astutely describes from a small boy's point of view, adopt him wholeheartedly—take him aboard the bulldozer; buy him a real knife; care for him while his grandmother takes an injured man to the hospital. But, in the long run, these treats are not enough. The boy lets slip that he's been sent from Chicago because his mother is involved with another man while his father is in the army; the grandmother promptly writes some deeply felt letters that result in his going home. A poignant final chapter provides context by summarizing the grand-mother's long life. The audience for this spare, beautifully written vignette is a question; it may take some introduction, but is well worth creative experimentation: a readaloud for good listeners in the early grades? adults? Meanwhile, like The Winter Room (1989), a memorable evocation of a special time and place, grounded in authentic insight into deeper truths.

Pub Date: March 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-531-05927-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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