THE CREATION

In the spirit of Johnson's poetic voice, which Ransome describes as ``influenced by the...imagery of nineteenth-century African-American plantation preachers,'' the romantic, sun- dappled paintings here are more literal than Carla Golembe's striking, boldly stylized art for her edition (1993) of this splendid verse retelling by the well-loved poet. Pictures of an African-American preacher and his rapt audience of children alternate with handsome full-bleed spreads depicting the six days of creation: what might be the Grand Canyon; a stream rushing through rocks; a blossom-strewn forest floor beside the stream; and so on, to a dark man among the flowers. Rhythmic friezes of animals adorn the text pages of this carefully structured, realistic presentation. The style could hardly be more different from Golembe's: less provocative, more conventional and accessible, yet also painted with real artistry and conviction. It's a measure of the poem's quality that it inspires such a rich variety of responses. (Poetry/Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: April 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-8234-1069-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1994

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Warmhearted cross-cultural friendship for a refugee on distant shores: both necessary and kind.

LETTERS FROM CUBA

In 1938, a Jewish refugee from Poland joins her father in small-town Cuba.

After three years abroad, Papa’s saved only enough money to send for one of his children. Thus Esther boards the steamship alone even though she’s not quite 12. Cuba is a constant surprise: Her father’s an itinerant peddler and not a shopkeeper; they live as the only Jews in a tiny village; and she’s allowed to wear sandals and go bare-legged in the heat. But the island is also a constant joy. Nearly everyone Esther meets is generous beyond their means. She adores her new trade as a dressmaker, selling her creations in Havana to earn money to bring over the rest of the family. In glowing letters to her sister back in Poland, Esther details how she’s learning Spanish through the poems of José Martí. She introduces her sister to her beloved new friends: a White doctor’s wife and her vegetarian, atheist husband; a Black, Santería-following granddaughter of an ex-slave; a Chinese Cuban shopkeeper’s nephew. Esther’s first year in Cuba is marked by the calendar of Jewish holidays, as she wonders if she can be both Cuban and a Jew. As the coming war looms in Europe, she and her friends find solidarity, standing together against local Nazis and strike breakers. An author’s note describes how the story was loosely inspired by the author’s own family history.

Warmhearted cross-cultural friendship for a refugee on distant shores: both necessary and kind. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51647-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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LETTERS FROM RIFKA

Beginning in Russia in 1919, this epistolary novel, based on experiences of the author's great-aunt, tells how 12-year-old Rifka Nebrot and her family fled the anti-Semitism of post-revolutionary Russia and emigrated to the US. The letters, each prefaced by a few telling lines of Pushkin, tell of the fear, indignities, privation, and disease endured as they traveled through Poland and into Belgium, where Rifka had to be left behind for several months because she was unacceptable as a steamship passenger: she had ringworm. Finally reaching Ellis Island, she was held in quarantine because the ringworm had left her bald—making her an undesirable immigrant because it was thought that she'd be unable to find a husband to support her. Eventually, Rifka talked her way into the country; her energy, cleverness, and flair for languages convinced officials that she wouldn't become a ward of the state. Told with unusual grace and simplicity, an unforgettable picture of immigrant courage, ingenuity, and perseverance. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8050-1964-2

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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