Inspired by a small Virginia anti-slavery town for its setting and drawing from 18th-century costume with the influence of...

THE HIRED HAND

An African-American folktale from Southern oral tradition, first recorded in the late 19th century.

Down Virginia way, Young Sam, the lazy, no-account son of a sawmill owner, has his life turned upside-down when a hired hand shows up asking for work. Young Sam spies on New Hand, and discovers that the man has the power to rejuvenate an old farmer with sawdust, water, and a drop of blood accompanied by magical incantations. Young Sam exploits his knew knowledge and accidentally kills the woman he's trying to make young, landing himself in court. What begins as a gripping, well-told tale starts to sound like a morality play, as Young Sam repents his lazy ways. Born as it is of pure desperation, his conversion (for readers) strains credibility. But New Hand believes Young Sam and bails him out by presenting to the court the woman who was supposed to have been dead.

Inspired by a small Virginia anti-slavery town for its setting and drawing from 18th-century costume with the influence of European fairy-tale art, Pinkney works his magic by blending both character and drama with the hushed tones of history. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1296-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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