I KNOW HERE

Going walkabout down the small stretch of country road that she and her family are about to leave, a child offers a mildly comforting strategy to others who are about to pull up stakes. Her little brother is excited about moving to Toronto, but to the narrator, “This is where I live. I don’t know Toronto. I know here.” “Here” is rural Saskatchewan, where her family has been living while her father worked on a hydroelectric dam, now complete. Walking from home to school (“only me in grade three”) and back, she counts her community’s house trailers along the roadside, waves to a familiar passerby and recalls sighting a moose and hearing wolves in the surrounding woods. Her mood lightens at last when she realizes that she can capture and retain at least some of her small world by drawing pictures of it. James’s vividly colored, naïve-style scenes capture the bright intensity of the child’s inner and outer landscapes and also the unaffected way in which she observes them. Good for sharing. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-88899-923-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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