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Amazing faces

by Lee Bennett Hopkins


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-6-"You can read many things in her face," says Joseph Bruchac in describing Aunt Molly Sky, a venerable Native American storyteller. Aunt Molly is one of 16 people, varied in age and ethnicity, whose everyday lives are reflected in this picture-book anthology. Faces figure prominently in some poems as Hopkins and Soentpiet celebrate America's diversity. "Amazing Face" belongs to a chortling Asian baby who is addressed by a blond mother, and the concluding poem, Langston Hughes's "My People," is paired with a multiracial crowd waving flags in a city fireworks scene. Some of the voices and warm watercolor portraits are necessarily specific-Chinatown's child who lives "above Good Fortune/where they catch crabs fresh" or "Latina, abuela, she is everyone/of us come from otherwhere." Some experiences-dreams, loneliness, the heroism of a returning soldier or a smoke-smudged firefighter-are universal. Varied in shape, each poem is set on an ivory half-page next to a broad scene-sometimes a single child, other times a small group or an energetic crowd. This appealing package of poetry and ideas will be enjoyed by children, parents, and teachers. There are many bits to savor, and the underlying theme is so well executed that it could easily stimulate interest in finding more people in poems.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

The focus of this excellent collection of disparate poems is not strictly faces but people. The poems-contributed by writers such as Joseph Bruchac, Nikki Grimes, Pat Mora, and Jane Yolen-include character sketches, vignettes, and descriptions of people from all over multicultural America. Soentpiet's (Saturdays and Teacakes) astonishing watercolors unify the book's theme as he concentrates each illustration on the faces of Americans who live in both small towns and cities. His paintings are lifelike, full of shadows and depth, and astonishingly precise. They allow readers to see a variety of emotional scenes, featuring a Native American storyteller, a soldier returning home, an insouciant Mexican-American girl, a firefighter, flirting teenagers, and a busy street in Chinatown. Especially noteworthy is Rebecca Kai Dotlich's opening poem, "Amazing Face," a touching portrait of a parent's hopes for a new baby ("Amazing, your face./ It shows you will watch from a window,/ whisper to a friend,/ ride a carousel..."). The ending reveals a sea of faces and fireworks to accompany Langston Hughes's "My People," a fitting celebration of Americans in all their diversity. Ages 6-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Illustrated with large, handsome watercolor portraits, the 16 poems in this anthology celebrate the rich diversity of American kids what makes each one special and the connections between them. Most poems are original to this collection, except for the final, My People, by Langston Hughes, which is paired with a close-up view of a huge crowd of parents and kids of many backgrounds that also appears on the cover. A sad kid is not accepted by the in-crowd in Jude Mandell's I'm the One. In contrast, Pat Mora's poem features a Latino boy who finds bliss in solitude ( I like to count the stars ). Jane Medina's Me x 2 includes Spanish translation of the lines and shows the riches of bilingualism: I do twice as much. And Jane Yolen's Karate Kid is a fun read-aloud ( Chop / Kick / Peace / Power ) and features a dynamic portrait of a girl in action. A great collection for sharing at home and in the classroom.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist



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