An expertly crafted story recognizing the power of humanity amid the life-altering tragedy of war.

HOW WAR CHANGED RONDO

A vibrant, artistic town is changed forever.

Danko (a light bulb), Fabian (a pink balloon dog), and Zirka (an origami bird) love their idyllic town of Rondo, famous for its singing flowers. The friends are happy until the terrifying and faceless War arrives and plants seeds of fear that grow into black flowers and prickly weeds, blocking out the light and silencing the wonderful singing flowers. The trio fails to reason with War and fights back with violence. At last, they galvanize the townspeople to work together to build a “huge light machine” that defeats the darkness of War. Rondo is rebuilt, but every person has been changed, scarred, injured, and red poppies spring up in places touched by War. Translated from the original Ukrainian, this allegorical picture book was originally published following the 2013-14 conflicts in Ukraine. Avoiding references to cultural or geographical markers, the universal story deftly highlights the importance of each person doing their part to battle darkness. The descriptive, lyrical text realistically depicts the impacts of war, and the visual juxtaposition of an imaginative, bright, colorful world and its war-ravaged aftermath is stark. Collage elements convey fragility and resilience in surprising yet visceral ways. Most characters are bipedal, and the three protagonists use gendered pronouns. Externally, characters are depicted in a variety of nonhuman colors (patterned, blue, green, bright white, pink). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An expertly crafted story recognizing the power of humanity amid the life-altering tragedy of war. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-367-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character.

LOLA LEVINE IS NOT MEAN!

From the Lola Levine series , Vol. 1

Brown introduces a smart, young protagonist with a multicultural background in this series opener for chapter-book readers.

Second-grader Lola Levine is half-Peruvian and half-Jewish; she is a skilled soccer player, a persuasive writer, and aspires to own a cat in the near future should her parents concede. During a friendly recess soccer match, Lola, playing goalie, defends an incoming ball by coming out of her box and accidentally fouls a classmate. And so Lola acquires the rhyming nickname Mean Lola Levine. Through Lola’s first-person narration, readers see clearly how her savvy and creativity come from her family: Dad, who paints, Mom, who writes, and a fireball younger brother. She also wears her bicultural identity easily. In her narration, her letters to her friends, and dialogue, Lola easily inserts such words as diario, tía, bubbe, and shalom. For dinner, the family eats matzo ball soup, Peruvian chicken, and flan. Interspersed throughout the story are references to all-star soccer athletes, from Brazilian master Pelé to Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, and David Beckham. Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations are cheery and appealing, depicting a long-haired Caucasian father and dark-skinned, black-haired mother. Typefaces that emulate penmanship appropriately differ from character to character: Lola’s is small and clean, her mother’s is tall and slanted, while Juan’s, the injured classmate, is sloppy and lacks finesse.

Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-25836-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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