Review: Because of You by B. G. Hennessy

because of you

Because of You: A Book of Kindness by B. G. Hennessy, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

This book speaks to the power of people in two distinct ways.  It speaks in pairs of lines that have similar themes but look at them from different points of view.  So the world is better for having a new person to love and care for, but also the world is better because there is a new person who will love and care for others.  This pairing happens throughout the book, strengthening the message that each person has value and impact in the world.  The book ends with the breaking of the pattern where it is expanded to include the impact of people around the world helping and caring.   “It is called peace.”  And then the book turns it once again and tells the reader that peace starts with individuals and it may happen “because of you.”

This book is written with conviction that radiates throughout it.  It also has a very strong format with the repetition of form.  It reads aloud effortlessly, celebrating the impact that each of us can have.  Nakata’s illustrations are quiet and sweet, a feeling that is helped by the small size of the book.  They include children and families of different ethnicities making the message even more universal.

While this will be enjoyed by children, it would also make a great gift for adults.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.

Book Review: A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg

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A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman

This is the heartfelt fictional story of Louis, a 10-year-old boy living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hits.  When the storm hits, no one is really worried, until it worsens.  Then there is no time for the family to gather any belongings except Louis’ horn.  When they leave their home, they find a piece of porch floating and Louis and his mother climb aboard.  His father pushes the porch with them safely on top.  On the way, they saw disturbing things: a dog they are unable to rescue and a body floating by.  When they finally got out of the deeper water, they headed for the Superdome with the rest of the crowd.  His father went in search of food and water, leaving Louis and his mother in the seats.  But when some people got rowdy, they moved to a safer part of the Superdome.  The question becomes how will they ever find Louis’ father again?

Beautifully written and illustrated, this book bring images from the flood to life.  Uhlberg manages to write in an unflinching and honest way, while still keeping his young audience clearly in mind.  There are difficult issues here, but they are presented in a way that can be glossed past or more deeply explored.  Uhlberg also manages to build moods very skillfully from the storm itself to the days of waiting in the Superdome, there is a constant sense of hope.

Bootman’s artwork is exceptional.  He evokes fear, concern, but above all love and hope in his images.  The paintings play light against dark throughout, until the climax of the theme at the end of the book. 

A personal and powerful look at the impact of Hurricane Katrina, this book would work well in a classroom setting and for any child wanting to learn more about the hurricane.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.

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