THE LONELY LIONESS AND THE OSTRICH CHICKS

A lonely lioness and a resolute mother ostrich take center stage among a cast of African animal characters in this model Aardema retelling of a Masai folktale. As in Who's in Rabbit's House? (1977), Aardema (Jackal's Flying Lesson, 1995, etc.) bases the tale on a version from her 1969 Tales for the Third Ear (o.p.). Her simplified, uncluttered tale with a modified ending contains many ingredients of good storytelling: villain and trickster, threat of danger, the seemingly weak outwitting the strong, and animals with human foibles. When a lioness, who would be happy with even one cub, sees four ostrich chicks, she impulsively steals them and calls them her own. Mother Ostrich solicits help from a gazelle, a hyena, a jackal, but it's the clever mongoose who outsmarts the lioness. Aardema uses repetition and pacing along with sounds based on African ideophones to tell this tale of a mother's unwavering determination to protect and rescue her vulnerable children from the lioness's misplaced longings. Setting the tale apart are Heo's subtle, distinctive paintings with African motifs in a fresh and unexpected primitive folk style. Unique compositions and perspectives, combined with a subdued palette that uses all the greens, golds, and ochres of the grasslands, challenge existing geometric notions of African art. (Picture book/folklore. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-86934-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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