CORNHUSK, SILK, AND WISHBONES

A BOOK OF DOLLS AROUND THE WORLD

An alphabet of dolls from many countries and time periods displays each with a handsome full-page photograph accompanied by a brief description. There are dolls made from cornhusks, wood, cloth, wishbones, apples, clay, china, yarn, and even bread. For some, the author tells how the doll got its name. For example, a stiff little china doll from Germany called “frozen Charlotte” was named for a popular story of the 1850s about a vain woman who went for a sleigh ride with her boyfriend and refused to wear a warm cloak, which would cover up her pretty blouse. She froze to death, hence the name. The Nina doll smuggled documents inside her china head through Union lines in the Civil War. Other dolls were named for the designer or manufacturer, like the Lenci doll from Italy. Some dolls described were not playthings, but were used in religious ceremonies. Those include the Kachina dolls of the Hopi Indians, Harvest dolls from Greece, vodou dolls from Haiti, and the Ushabti, small carved dolls buried in ancient Egyptian tombs to serve as servants in the afterlife. Markel includes clay figures used in the Mexican Nativity, which she calls xmas dolls, but is careful to note: “Children are not allowed to play with the Nativity dolls, but may help pose them.” The author includes an afterword on doll-collecting, a map showing the location of all the dolls included, and books for further reading. An attractive title for display or reading, this should have a wide audience. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-618-05487-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

WORDS WITH WINGS

In this delightfully spare narrative in verse, Coretta Scott King Award–winning Grimes examines a marriage’s end from the perspective of a child.

Set mostly in the wake of her father’s departure, only-child Gabby reveals with moving clarity in these short first-person poems the hardship she faces relocating with her mother and negotiating the further loss of a good friend while trying to adjust to a new school. Gabby has always been something of a dreamer, but when she begins study in her new class, she finds her thoughts straying even more. She admits: “Some words / sit still on the page / holding a story steady. / … / But other words have wings / that wake my daydreams. / They … / tickle my imagination, / and carry my thoughts away.” To illustrate Gabby’s inner wanderings, Grimes’ narrative breaks from the present into episodic bursts of vivid poetic reminiscence. Luckily, Gabby’s new teacher recognizes this inability to focus to be a coping mechanism and devises a daily activity designed to harness daydreaming’s creativity with a remarkably positive result for both Gabby and the entire class. Throughout this finely wrought narrative, Grimes’ free verse is tight, with perfect breaks of line and effortless shifts from reality to dream states and back.

An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-985-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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