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  • Postcards

Ahla al-Aghani (The Best Songs), 2nd Ed.
Safa Ameer
Illust. Yara Bamieh
Ramallah, Palestine: Tamer Institute, 2015. 24 pp.
ISBN: 9789950260498
(Picture book; ages 5–9)

Ahla al Aghani (The Best Songs), written in rhyme, reflects the beauty, power, and joy of music. When songs filled the air and spread in wide open and closed spaces, they overpowered everything. Children playing listened and immediately joined in singing. Children in shops listened and joined the singing, banging on their juice bottles. Children and parents busy in the kitchen started singing and drumming on pots, pans, and dishes. Even children in the neighborhood yard stopped quarreling and started singing and laughing. Music continued to travel, arriving to a near-by village.

Thus, music brings pleasure to everyone, and it is easy to have in daily life as simple tools can become music instruments. Its magic can even end a children’s quarrel. The author subtly includes the idea of gender equality—with the father, mother, and children all helping in the kitchen. This book is very popular among children, and the second edition was published only two years after the first publication.

Jehan Helou

Emily et tout un tas de choses (Emily and a Whole Heap of Things)
Piret Raud
Illus. Piret Raud
Translated from Estonian into French by Olek Sekki
Paris: Rouergue, 2014. Unp.
ISBN: 9782812607547
(Picture book; ages 3–11)

The simplicity of young Estonian author/illustrator Piret Raud’s work belies the complexity of her stories. Emily et tout un tas de choses is no exception. Its perceptive visual narrative (black and white highlighted with environmentally friendly green) will amuse yet allow young readers to reflect on themselves and the world around them. Emily, a pert, fashion-conscious little poisson, collects things during her morning swim along the bottom of the sea. Each material object she believes is the most important thing in her life, until one day she finds a message in a bottle that gives her a life-changing surprise! Raud’s illustrations, interwoven with her text, pinpoint the confused excitement in Emily’s mind as she realizes that she is more important than anything else because she can read and write. We now see an upside-down and wide-eyed, almost rediscovered Emily as she discards her possessions and returns to her fish-like self. This fascinating picture book can be read at many levels. It allows for reflection on our material lives and the environment in which we live, as well as each individual’s need to know who she is. It also, of course, reinforces the importance of being literate.

Penni Cotton

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Nadia Wheatley
Illus. Armin Greder
Kew East, Australia: Windy
Hollow Books, 2015. 32 pp.
ISBN: 9781922081483
(Picture book; ages 8+)

As it begins, this tale seems a familiar one: the Biblical story depicted in many Renaissance paintings. A man, woman and child set out on a journey.

Tonight is the night.

The family has to flee.

They’ve been tipped off that the authorities are after their blood.

But Wheatley’s spare text and Greder’s spreads of a vast and dark Middle Eastern desert reshape the centuries-old tale. The reader is startled by a change in timeframe, as the night’s bombardment is shown to come from modern weapons. Pictures and words subtly reveal interactions in the family as well as their faith and endurance. They reach a camp as the book ends, but we do not know what their future holds. It is the child who tells his mother, “One day we will reach our new home.” This book, many years in gestation, emerges now when the world is experiencing the biggest flow of refugees since the era of IBBY’s foundation. As the cover blurb claims, this is indeed a fable for our times.

Robin Morrow

I was Invisible/Keep Holding On
Utami Ichda
Illus. Indri
Jakarta, Indonesia: Grasindo, 2015. 88 pp/64 pp.
ISBN: 978-602-375-0641/ ISBN: 978-602-375-0610
(Chapter books; ages 11–13)

These two books are part of KPC (Kelas Penulis Cilik or Children Writers’ Club) founded by Grasindo to give opportunity to elementary...


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pp. 18-93
Launched on MUSE
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