A warm introduction to an inspiring figure.

MOTHER TERESA

THE LITTLE PENCIL IN GOD'S HAND

A debut picture book focuses on the origins of Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa was known by a different name as a child—Agnes. As Saunders tells her tale, her words are accompanied by soft watercolor and colored pencil illustrations that enhance the storyline and evoke a sense of reverence. From early on, Agnes was torn between her desire to become a writer and her dream to help the poor. She knew the hardship of poverty after her father unexpectedly died. But Agnes’ mother “stitched their family back together again” by selling embroideries. Agnes took food to the needy as a child and developed her writing talent. Eventually, she felt a divine “tugging inside her heart” to serve God in India. She combined her service there with writing, living up to her own stirring words: “I am a little pencil in the hand of God.” The simple language Saunders uses is appropriate for a young audience, and studious readers will enjoy the back matter that gives additional information. Rather than spouting facts about Mother Teresa, the author takes a personal approach, considering what life may have been like for her. While Saunders has clearly done her research, she also deftly takes artistic license to bring the tale alive with sensory and emotional details.

A warm introduction to an inspiring figure.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950169-16-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Spork

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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