SACRED SONG OF THE HERMIT THRUSH

A NATIVE AMERICAN LEGEND

A Mohawk pourquoi tale explains how the hermit thrush and other birds got their songs.

“Long ago, the Birds had no songs,” the story opens; only humans sang. On a visit to Earth, the Good Spirit notices the silence until he hears chanting coming from “an Indian village,” depicted as several longhouses, smoke rising gently above them. The Good Spirit decides to give song to the birds, calling them together and telling them, “You are to fly as high as you can….The Bird that flies the highest will have the most beautiful song.” Hermit Thrush knows he has no chance against stronger flyers such as Akweks, the bald eagle, so he sneaks under the eagle’s feathers and rides up till even Akweks can fly no higher. Thus only Hermit Thrush is able to reach the Spirit World, from which he descends with the most beautiful song—and sudden, crushing shame at his trickery. “That is why Hermit Thrush is so shy.” Illustrator Fadden (Akwesasne Mohawk) is the grandson of the author, a teacher at the St. Regis Mohawk School who was adopted into the Mohawk Wolf Clan and given the name Tehanetorens. (He died in 2008.) The telling is stately, with a steady, oral cadence. The dappled paintings offer field guide–worthy images of the bird characters and depict the Good Spirit with brown skin and long, straight black hair.

Lovely. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939053-26-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: 7th Generation

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE

From the Cece and the Scientific Method series

Cece loves asking “why” and “what if.”

Her parents encourage her, as does her science teacher, Ms. Curie (a wink to adult readers). When Cece and her best friend, Isaac, pair up for a science project, they choose zoology, brainstorming questions they might research. They decide to investigate whether dogs eat vegetables, using Cece’s schnauzer, Einstein, and the next day they head to Cece’s lab (inside her treehouse). Wearing white lab coats, the two observe their subject and then offer him different kinds of vegetables, alone and with toppings. Cece is discouraged when Einstein won’t eat them. She complains to her parents, “Maybe I’m not a real scientist after all….Our project was boring.” Just then, Einstein sniffs Cece’s dessert, leading her to try a new way to get Einstein to eat vegetables. Cece learns that “real scientists have fun finding answers too.” Harrison’s clean, bright illustrations add expression and personality to the story. Science report inserts are reminiscent of The Magic Schoolbus books, with less detail. Biracial Cece is a brown, freckled girl with curly hair; her father is white, and her mother has brown skin and long, black hair; Isaac and Ms. Curie both have pale skin and dark hair. While the book doesn’t pack a particularly strong emotional or educational punch, this endearing protagonist earns a place on the children’s STEM shelf.

A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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