Monday, March 7, 2011
Chee-Lin: A Giraffe's Journey
Written and Illustrated by: James Rumford
"Linking the Chinese mythological creature, the Chee-Lin, to a 1414 Chinese portrait of a giraffe, Rumford imagines how a giraffe may have journeyed to China. From his birth and capture in East Africa to a short stay in Bengal and a stay in Nanjing and finally landing in Peking, lonely Tweega (Swahili for giraffe) survives frightening voyages, cruel and tender caretakers, and cramped quarters, ending up in the emperor’s spacious grounds. Tweega inspires awe everywhere and stirs optimism among the Chinese, who believe the Chee-Lin to be an omen of good fortune."
The Butter Man
Written by: Elizabeth Alalou and Ali Alalou
Illustrated by: Julie Klear Essakali
"Every Saturday night, Nora watches her Moroccan-born baba (father) prepare a couscous meal in a special pot that he carried with him to the U.S. in his suitcase. One evening, Baba shares a story about how he coped with a famine during his childhood, spent in the mountains of Morocco. The authors, a married couple who drew on Ali’s personal experience, write in descriptive language that speaks directly to children. Baba says that hunger, for example, feels like “a little mouse gnawing on my insides.” The folk-art paintings, created by a textile designer, feature whimsical characters and cozy domestic scenes, while the ochre, gold, and rust palette evokes the feeling of the dusty, sunlit landscape. An authors’ note adds cultural context, and an appended glossary defines the Berber words used in the text. This warm family story about a rarely viewed culture will have particular appeal among children of immigrants, who, like Nora, wonder about their parents’ mysterious, former lives in another land."
Afgan Dreams: Young Voices of Afghanistan
Written by: Tony O'Brien and Mike Sullivan
Photographs by: Tony O'Brien
Upper Elementary, Junior High and High School Grades
"This handsome photo-essay features contemporary Afghan children ranging in age from 8 to 18 years. They were asked about their families, lives, and hopes for the future. The young people's straightforward statements tell much about the devastating effects of decades of war. Some of them are still able to attend school; others wish they could. Even the youngest children work part of the day, often at street markets or in their family businesses, such as rug making. Two 10-year-olds pick pockets to survive. The matter-of-fact way they describe losing parents, siblings, and homes to war is jarring. Overall, the book provides a sensitive, poignant, and respectful look at the lives of these young people. It avoids sentimentality and politicizing. While the book will need an introduction, it offers Western children insight into a country and society often featured in the news. This is a timely, relevant, and well-executed offering."
School Library Journal Review
Way Up and Over Everything
Written by: Alice McGill
Illustrated by: Jude Daly
"This African American “flying” tale details the miraculous escape of five African slaves from Ol’ Man Deboreaux’s plantation. After a day of toil in the cotton fields, Jane, a 16-year-old slave, notices that the newly arrived Africans are nowhere to be found. When the vicious overseer and the plantation owner set out to find the fugitives, Jane bravely follows and witnesses the Africans taking to the air and soaring over the rolling countryside toward their home across the sea. Jane is warned not to repeat what she has seen, but repeat it she does, as this tale of transcendence and freedom is handed down from generation to generation, until it is finally related to readers by the story’s narrator, Jane’s great-great-granddaughter. Daly’s delicate and elongated figures, small in scale against the vast watercolor landscapes of the Georgia countryside, present a bird’s-eye view of the story and suggest the enormity of such an escape. McGill finishes with a note about the origins and variations of African American flying stories."