AUNT MINNIE MCGRANAHAN

Prigger bases her engaging debut on an incident in her own family. The setting is 1920, so Minnie can’t be considered obsessive-compulsive; instead, she’s a woman with a system for keeping things shipshape and just so. Her farmhouse is trim and neat, as is her garden and barn. Her neighbors snipe that it’s a good thing that Minnie, a spinster, has no children, who would surely interfere with her system. Then the telegram arrives: “Come quick. Your brother and his wife have had an accident. Their children are orphans in need of a home.” Aunt Minnie goes and gathers the children, all nine of them, in a thrice. The neighbors look on with amazement (as will readers) when all the potential for pandemonium is breezily absorbed into Aunt Minnie’s system: “The oldest looked after the youngest. The ones in the middle looked after each other. And Aunt Minnie looked after them all.” Tweak this template a little, and it works for grocery shopping, housework, bathing, and going to the johnny house. There are episodes of stubbornness and fretting, dawdling, pouting, and crying; there is also noise, music, laughter, and hugging, all captured with elemental clarity and a visual caress in Lewin’s watercolors. This story is a sweet and simple song of grace, love, and responsibilities met; it will leave children aglow and adults in tears. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 22, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-82270-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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SILVER RAIN BROWN

The hazy hot summer seems interminable for a young African-American boy and his pregnant mother. “Can’t cool down!” is the refrain that reverberates throughout the tale, and it’s literally true; lack of rain has put the city on a water conservation alert and the mother worries about all her flowers. Instead of despairing, mother and child surreptitiously water the plants using kitchen pots under the cloak of darkness; the theme of personal resilience and coping permeates the tale. A cooling, life-giving rain heralds the onset of the mother’s labor and the arrival of a new baby sister, Silver Rain Brown. The special bond between mother and son is readily apparent in Flavin’s full-page, full-color illustrations. As for the father, there is only one reference for readers to interpret: “Four a.m. and I can’t sleep, wishing Daddy would come back, wishing, wishing it would rain.” Helldorfer deftly captures the heavy oppressiveness of a summer heat wave, from children attempting to fry eggs on the sidewalk to short tempers and sleeping the hot days away, while Flavin’s illustrations artfully reflect the shimmering cityscapes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-73093-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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JUST LIKE A BABY

A handmade cradle forms the centerpiece of one family’s celebration of the birth of a new baby in this congenial debut from Bond. Skirts bounce, watch fobs bob, and pots and pans swing from the rafters as the members of a family find out the good news—a new baby is on the way. Each one takes part in the construction of a cradle: Father builds it, Grandfather paints it, Grandmother sews a quilt for it, Brother cuts out a mobile to hang overhead, and Mother sets it in near the window, beneath the pearly moonlight. A cumulative refrain marks the completion of each person’s loving task; one family member after another takes a turn climbing into the cradle and is gently rocked to sleep. Rounded, rosy-cheeked, chubby characters spill out of the cradle and skewed, elongated perspectives recall Audrey and Don Woods’ The Napping House (1984). The circle of family surrounding the baby provides more warmth than a fire in the hearth and is more soothing than the hum of a lullaby. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-10416-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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