MY MAMA HAD A DANCING HEART

A lyrical dance through the seasons. This will be a switch for fans of Gray's Small Green Snake (1994). The poetry is retained, but the mood is soft and nostalgic. Mama is a dancer, and she shares her joy of movement with her daughter, who narrates. ``We'd dance a frog-hopping leaf-growing flower-opening hello spring ballet'' and then drink sassafras tea, she recalls. A winter dance includes making snow angels, and a promenade imitating the clumsiness of snowmen. Beverages mark the seasons (lemonade in summer, cocoa in winter) as do colors (a red-orange summer morning, paper-white cut-out snowflakes). As the book closes, the now-grown daughter ties on her toe shoes and performs ballet in exalted remembrance. Col¢n (Sharon Wyeth's Always My Dad, p. 236) gives his illustrations a 1940s feel; his palette of pine, green, maroon, violet, and gold glows warmly. Fine lines scratched into the drawings add a sense of motion beyond the dancing figures, highlighting the billowing clouds, rustling leaves, and the splashed-in puddles. The reflective mood of the story may appealat firstmore to adults, but the sharing of this book between generations creates a nice parallel to the intimacy of parent and child in the story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09470-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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