A CLOAK FOR THE MOON

Kimmel and Krenina (The Magic Dreidels, 1996, etc.) reconstruct a literary fairy tale from a story by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. In Kimmel's version, the tailor Haskel from Tzafat is in love with the Moon. He dreams that she has asked him for a cloak to keep her warm in the cold night sky, but he doesn't know how he will make an appropriately large and flexible garment. Acting on a tip from one of his uncle's apprentices, he sails to China and travels to a mountain city called "The Roof of the World" in search of a fabled cloth woven from light. Krenina here places lotus blossoms and Buddha faces among the winding decorations of leaves and flowers. The secret of spinning thread from light, once known in this city, has been lost, and the hem of the traditional royal wedding gown, whose fabric can fit any wearer perfectly, has come undone. Puzzling over the mystery with a magnifying glass in the moonlight, the tailor discovers that the concentrated light causes the thread to grow. He repairs the wedding dress so that the princess can be married. From a gift of a bit of the gown's thread he weaves a cloth of light, and thus is able to sew a cloak for the Moon. Krenina's gouache illustrations are both comical and poignant, lending an appropriately nimble and graceful touch to the tale. In an author's note, Kimmel identifies his source as one of the mystical tales of Rabbi Nachman, without further elaboration on the tale itself. While not obviously reflective of its Hasidic roots, the retelling is satisfying both as a story of devotion and determination and as a magical look at the nature of light. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1493-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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