GRANDPARENTS SONG

Stunning illustrations inspired by folk art illuminate Hamanaka’s song celebrating the diversity of a young American girl’s heritage and her roots in the land. “My eyes are green like the sea, like the sea and my hair is dark and blows free, blows free.” Many of the pictures are framed with old wood, but one is framed with twigs, another is topped by a saw, and another by beadwork and horse hair on a rich red background. The grandparents’ pictures contain intricate cultural details, particularly in the decoration of the frames. The girl sings of her mother’s mother and father—one of Native American and one of northern European descent, and of her father’s father and mother, one with African and one with Mexican heritage. The grandparents came from the sun, from the earth, and from east and west, and they came in search of freedom. The father’s page is breathtaking in its congruence of words and pictures: “Father says he came from the South, from the South where the scent of magnolia lulls the cottonmouth.” Father, mother, and daughter stand beside an avenue of trees leading to a stately plantation reminiscent of Oak Alley, Louisiana. Cotton clouds emerge from a basket to float gently over their heads. Barely visible in the foreground are tiny images of slaves picking cotton. Encircling the picture is a sinuous shape marked by the black and brown patterns of a cottonmouth snake that at one point eerily morph into figures with peaked hoods, a noose, and a burning cross. A lush white magnolia blossom fills the snake’s open mouth. This is no romanticized vision of the past; it is rich and multi-layered. Like the beautiful child who gracefully combines the sometimes conflicted heritage of her ancestors, this lovely work combines diverse artistic traditions to create a whole that is, like the American family tree, beautiful and strong. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-17852-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA MAKES A PLAN

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 2

Reality puts only a temporary damper on big, glittery plans for a sleepover castle.

New school friend Tam, who shared bánh mi at lunch in The One and Only Sparkella (2021), is arriving in two hours, and before that Sparkella needs to make a castle “fit for two royal highnesses.” Unfortunately, even with Dad’s help, the flimsy cardboard construction collapses as soon as Sparkella climbs inside to test it. What to do? After giving the pouting princess some personal time in the garage, Dad points the way: “I think you have to take what you have and make it SPARKLE like only you can.” And, indeed, by the time brown-skinned “Tam, Queen of Kittens” is dropped off by her grandma, a pair of folding tables have been transformed with paint, wrapping paper, and colorful fabrics into the sparkliest castle ever! Laying on saturated colors and sprays of tiny stars with a lavish hand, Barnes depicts the two young “royals” in flamboyantly decorated settings—even Dad’s motorcycle is a dazzling confection awash in bows, and Dad himself, light-skinned like Sparkella, isn’t the least decorative element considering his fondness for sporting a purple boa and outrageous eyewear when occasion demands. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-75076-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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