Poetic, moving, and empowering.

LOUJAIN DREAMS OF SUNFLOWERS

A STORY INSPIRED BY LOUJAIN ALHATHLOUL

This is a story inspired by the life of Loujain AlHathloul, the Saudi women’s rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who challenged patriarchy and continues to be unjustly persecuted.

Young Loujain dreams of flying like her dad, who literally has wings in this gently fantastical tale. She longs to see a field of sunflowers pictured in a photo given to her by her father, but the only way to get there is by flying, and girls aren’t allowed to fly. When she tells her friends about her dream of flying, they ridicule her. After a good cry in her bedroom, Loujain confronts her father: “It is not fair that I cannot fly,” she asserts. “Why not me?” Her mother agrees: “You have to believe things will change. Otherwise they never will.” A wordless montage across a double-page spread shows Loujain receiving flying lessons from her father. Soon, he is able to take her on daily practice flights at sunrise. Finally, one day, Loujain is ready for the longest flight yet—the journey to the field of a million sunflowers. Green’s illustrations, rendered in acrylic gouache and colored pencil, are beautifully representational, using plant, flower, star, moon, and sky motifs to capture the flourishing of a young girl’s potential and the scope of her ambition. Cowritten by AlHathloul’s sister (also an activist), this inspiring story is capped off with a short, informative bio of Loujain AlHathloul and a profound letter to the reader about summoning one’s courage to dream and create a better world.

Poetic, moving, and empowering. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66265-064-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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