PRAIRIE TRAIN

As the Great Northern chugs its way to St. Paul, past fields “stitched together / in brown and yellow patches, / like Grandma’s quilt spread over the hills,” a lone child in her Sunday Best gazes happily out the windows, takes a meal in the dining car (surreptitiously dropping sugar cubes into her wallet as mementos), makes friends with those seated around her when the train is temporarily halted by a snowdrift, then steps off at last, and into her grandmother’s arms. Thompson places the ride in the 1920s or ’30s, depicting passengers and elegant interiors with photorealistic sharpness, then backing off to show the big train steaming its way through towns and over rolling prairie. Despite occasional anxious moments, the generally buoyant tone of this individual odyssey will reassure prospective young travelers, and trainiacs will pore over the period details. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-13433-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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ME AND MY FAMILY TREE

PLB 0-517-70967-8 Me And My Family Tree (32 pp.; $13.00; PLB $14.99; May; 0-517-70966-X; PLB 0-517-70967-8): For children who are naturally curious about the people who care for them (most make inquiries into family relationships at an early age), Sweeney explains, with the assistance of a young narrator, the concept of a family tree. Photographs become understandable once the young girl learns the relationships among family members; she wonders what her own family tree will look like when she marries and has children. A larger message comes at the end of this story: not only does she have a family tree, but so does everyone in the world. Cable’s drawings clearly define the process of creating a family tree; she provides a blank tree so children can start on their own geneaology.(Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-517-70966-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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