A LITTLE SALMON FOR WITNESS

Aaji, Rajiv's grandmother, fondly recalls having a piece of salmon ``for witness'' on Good Friday. Times in Trinidad are harder now, and Aaji has no hope of tasting salmon again. Rajiv sets out to find at least a tin of salmon as a special gift for her, because it is also her birthday. He asks everyone he can think of to allow him to work in exchange for salmon, but no one can help. He finally goes to the home of his teacher and trades an afternoon of weeding for his prize. Rahaman (O Christmas Tree, 1996, etc.) makes central to Rajiv's tale a simplicity of existence, respect for elders, and the notion that hard work has its rewards, in striking contrast to the life most US readers know. Unfortunately, the longwinded narrative is often overwhelmed with detailed descriptions of foods and customs that turn the tale into a social studies lesson, and an uplifting ending can't entirely redeem the rambling plot. The quietly understated pastel illustrations match the tone of the story, employing savory melons, pinks, and golds as warm backgrounds, rather than panoramic scenes of Trinidad. Using a tight focus of faces, the illustrator highlights Rajiv, a compelling character lost within his own story. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-525-67521-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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