NICKOMMOH!

A THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION

Koller (Bouncing on the Bed, p. 143, etc.) portrays a Narragansett nickommoh, or celebratory gathering, from which it is very likely the tradition of Thanksgiving was drawn. As explained in an exemplary note—brief, clear, interesting—at the end of the book, these gatherings occurred 13 times a year, once each lunar month. The harvest gathering is one of the larger gatherings: a great lodge was built, copious food was prepared, and music and dance extended deep into the night. Koller laces the text with a good selection of Narragansett words, found in the glossary (although there is no key to pronunciation, even for words such as Taqountikeeswush and Puttuckquapuonck). The text is written as a chanted prose poem, with much repetition, which can be both incantatory and hackneyed, as when “frost lies thick on the fields at dawn, and the winged ones pass overhead in great numbers.” Mostly the phrases are stirring—as are Sewall’s scratchboard evocations—and often inspirational—for this nickommoh puts to shame what has become known as the day before the launch of the holiday shopping season. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81094-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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HALLOWEEN MOTEL

Creature feature fans are sure to find their favorite nightmares attending this Halloween soiree. Ready to party at the Halloween Motel, a family checks in, dons costumes (Dad’s Elvis—the horror, the horror), and breezily heads off down the halls to meet the other guests—all of whom wear amazingly realistic ghost, ghoul, mummy, vampire, zombie, witch, and other outfits. The rhymed text trots merrily along, with occasional choruses, and frequent changes in typeface and size, for variety. Rocco’s postmodern cartoon scenes, done in garish greens and purples, are chock-full of googlies, more caricatured than scary. When the irritated guests complain about “weirdos” coming to their doors, patchy green desk clerk Frankie Stein lurches up to inform the trick-or-treaters that they’re at the wrong venue; the Halloween Motel is down the road a piece. More giggles and squiggles from the author and illustrator of Snow Inside the House (1998), this is guaranteed to be a big storytime hit. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028815-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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AN AMISH YEAR

Readers follow a fourth grade Amish girl named Anna through the four seasons in a gentle tale from Ammon (An Amish Christmas, 1996, not reviewed). Perhaps in the spirit of Amish culture, the book does not engage reader through flashy illustrations or a kitschy plot. Instead, it offers a sense of serene assurance that arises from this community that is attempting to live according to its set of beliefs. Anna’s life, as with all Amish, revolves around the seasons, home, and farm. Hard work, milking the cows, tending the vegetable garden, and school take up most of her time, but that does not preclude fun; there is a time and place for everything in her life, including play when the work is done. Like the “English” (non-Amish), Anna and her friends enjoy softball, volleyball, flying kites, sledding, etc. Ammon makes Anna approachable, subtly revealing the similarities between her life and readers’ while illuminating the fundamentals of Amish culture. The well-researched, luminous illustrations resonate with the beauty of this life and are an integral part of the book. For a hurly-burly society, the notion of families gathering and caring for one another in an extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins is inviting and accessible. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82622-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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