This story will take away, and immediately restore, readers’ belief in miracles.

NICANOR'S GATE

Anyone looking for a definition of “miracle” could look to this picture book.

The miracle Nicanor witnesses couldn’t be more straightforward. He’s hired the finest artisans to build a gate for the Temple in Jerusalem, two colossal doors made of metal. But as soon as they’re placed on a transport ship, a storm begins. It sinks one of the doors—and very nearly the ship—to the bottom of the sea. But just as the precious cargo seems to be lost, the law of gravity appears to reverse itself, and the door is suddenly floating on top of the water. It would be difficult to find a clearer example of deus ex machina. But if the plot is unsurprising (at least to people who believe in miracles), the story still manages to convey a sense of wonder. This is due largely to Massari’s illustrations. The text describes the doors: “cast from Corninthian gold, a rare mixture of copper, gold, and silver that gleamed like the sun.” The colors in her pictures are so rich that the metal really does look like gold. (The characters’ skin tones are equally rich and varied shades of brown.) The marvels also contrast beautifully with the bleakness of the story. When hope seems lost, one character responds with both faith and resignation: “We do what we can. The rest is in God’s hands.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.75-by-20.5-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

This story will take away, and immediately restore, readers’ belief in miracles. (Picture book/religion. 4-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7452-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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An uplifting, rhyming picture book offering food for the soul.

A SPOONFUL OF FAITH

A mother teaches her daughter a special recipe to help feed her faith.

Layla, a young, brown-skinned girl, is ready yet nervous for her first day of school. Seeking a confidence boost, she goes in search of her mom—“’Cause mamas can help / when you need love and calm”—and finds her in the kitchen. “Hey, sweetie, sit here / Let’s make a quick meal / that’s full of good things / to help how you feel,” her mother suggests and fishes out a recipe book. The recipe for the meal includes many ingredients, but none of them are tangible. Instead, courage, “a spoonful of faith,” “dashes of kindness,” “handfuls of hope,” “pinches of prayers,” and warm hugs go into the mixing bowl. To concretize these virtues, the artwork uses a visual motif of hearts and flowers. Once the meal is ready, Layla hesitantly looks into the bowl, unsure what to make of the imaginary repast, but a word of wisdom from Mama helps her realize the true source of her emotional sustenance and strength. The illustrations, created using digital watercolor, pencil, and gouache brushes in Procreate, are soothing, with soft pastel colors. While God is mentioned, there are no references to any specific religion.

An uplifting, rhyming picture book offering food for the soul. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-301781-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...

MOMMY'S KHIMAR

From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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