MAMA IS A MINER

The narrator, depicted in Catalanotto's impressionistic watercolors as of primary-school age, describes her mother's work in simple, gracefully cadenced sentences occasionally varied with rhythmic verse (``Firedamp, blackdamp,/Fire Boss checks the air./Bad top, kettle bottom:/don't go there''). Mama's journey two miles into the mountain and her different tasks—spreading rock dust to prevent sparks, or shoveling up spilled coal—are briefly described. Lyons also touches on daily events (lunch), dangers (``last month, Eldon's leg got hurt''), and economic necessity, but she focuses on the miners' sensations, contrasting their grueling work with the family life they yearn to return to at day's end. This theme is beautifully extended in the illustrations, where the family and the spotless kitchen that are constantly in Mama's thoughts merge wordlessly with underground scenes, tucked to one side or expanding to an entire spread, while the narrator, too, is imagining what Mama is doing during her day. A sober, richly expressive look at a hard way of life, underlining this mother's courage and uncomplaining persistence. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-531-06853-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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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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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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