While both holidays are but lightly sketched, themes of friendship and respect across cultures are compelling.

SHANGHAI SUKKAH

In Shanghai’s Hongkew district, two boys, one German-Jewish, one Chinese, share in the celebration of their two harvest holidays, Sukkot and the Moon Festival.

Having fled Berlin with his family in advance of the Holocaust, 10-year-old Marcus is trying to make the best of their exile in the crowded Jewish neighborhood that’s nestled in the bustling Chinese city. While most of his fellow yeshiva students keep to themselves, Marcus makes a new friend, Liang, bonding despite language and cultural differences. When autumn holidays approach, Marcus explains the tradition of building a sukkah, or traditional ceremonial hut, and happily accepts Liang’s offer of help in its construction, though he’s disappointed that the family’s poverty means they can’t use fruits and vegetables to decorate it. Seeing his friend’s sadness, Liang invites Marcus to experience the Moon Festival, with its colorful red lanterns, moon-shaped cookies, and games. Liang’s idea to decorate the sukkah with bright lanterns provides a welcome bridge between the two cultures. Tsong uses lithographs to create a layered, textured look, employing dark, drab hues to depict the poverty-stricken tenement district and vivid greens and red-orange tones for the sukkah and its lanterns. Hyde’s straightforward text assumes basic understanding of the Holocaust, focusing on Marcus’ experiences in Shanghai.

While both holidays are but lightly sketched, themes of friendship and respect across cultures are compelling. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-3474-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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