A HUMBLE LIFE

PLAIN POEMS

In a poetic look at life in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, High (Under New York, p. 184, etc.) takes the reader through the seasons, illuminating the existence of Plain People. Highlighting the lack of modern conveniences, this educational view begins with spring, a time for picking flowers, fishing, and plowing the land. In summer, the corn is shucked, the cows are milked, and when the long day ends, weary ones lie down for a restful night’s sleep. A climatic shift and chromatic change in landscape produce autumn, where crops are preserved for winter meals and pumpkins are made ripe for selling. In winter, quilting by the fire and sipping hot chocolate prevent the cold from biting when anticipation for warmer days builds. Through all they’ve done to nurture their simple way of life with each new year, these folks know that a season or even a day is not complete without giving thanks to the Lord for all they have. A thin layer of oil clings to the canvas as cool shades and bright light spread across the fields as Farnsworth (Prairie School, p. 494, etc.) brings this community to life. Bold, brilliant colors are reserved for summer skies and winter quilts, while neutral shades and barely-there sketches give detail to the people, their land, and animals. Illustrations and prose magically come together in this rich view of a culture that’s reminiscent of a peaceful dream. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8028-5207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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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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HONEY, I LOVE

Iffy art cramps this 25th-anniversary reissue of the joyful title poem from Greenfield’s first collection (1978), illustrated by the Dillons. As timeless as ever, the poem celebrates everything a child loves, from kissing Mama’s warm, soft arm to listening to a cousin from the South, “ ’cause every word he says / just kind of slides out of his mouth.” “I love a lot of things / a whole lot of things,” the narrator concludes, “And honey, / I love ME, too.” The African-American child in the pictures sports an updated hairstyle and a big, infectious grin—but even younger viewers will notice that the spray of cool water that supposedly “stings my stomach” isn’t aimed there, and that a comforter on the child’s bed changes patterns between pages. More problematic, though, is a dropped doll that suddenly acquires a horrified expression that makes it look disturbingly like a live baby, and the cutesy winged fairy that hovers over the sleeping child in the final scene. The poem deserves better. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009123-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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