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In the Small, Small Nightby Jane Kurtz
Synopses & Reviews
In the middle of the night the world can seem huge andfrightening, especially when you've just moved far from home. On Abena and Kofi's first night in America, it is late and it is dark and they are up worrying. What if a giant lizard or a slender-snouted crocodile crawled into their suitcases? What if the people in their new school laugh at them? What if they forget Grandmother and their cousins, now that they are an ocean away?
But Abena knows a secret to help them. It is a secret that can make the world and the night seem small again. She reaches for her new flashlight and turns it on. She says to her little brother, Kofi, "Pretend this is the moon. Close your eyes." And then she begins ...
"In Kurtz's (Fire on the Mountain) reassuring bedtime tale, a girl puts her younger brother at ease in a strange place with stories from their homeland. It's their family's first night in America after emigrating from Ghana, and Abena's little brother, Kofi, won't let her sleep. To reassure Kofi and to regain her own sense of confidence, Abena tells two stories, one about Anansi, the other an Aesop-like fable. With each one, Isadora (Ben's Trumpet) shifts the setting from Abena's bedroom, bathed in the deep blue and lavender hues of night, to sunbaked landscapes of West Africa. The first story finds the trickster Anansi with worries of his own, which he tries to assuage by hoarding the world's wisdom in a pot; in the second, a determined turtle proves that no obstacle is too great when a friend is in need. Kurtz beautifully captures the way an age-old oral tradition emerges in the lilting, playful cadences of Abena's voice. 'Don't worry,' she says, when Kofi asks whether Anansi is going to play a trick on them. 'If he is, we're ready. I'm very tricky, myself.' But what really shines through, thanks to Isadora's velvety pastels, is the us-against-the-world bond between the siblings. Their physical ease with one another, and the warmth that passes back and forth between their dark eyes, make the old clich ring true: home is where the heart is. Ages 5-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Jane Kurtz grew up in East Africa and has recently traveled and spoken at schools in both East and West Africa. On two childhood visits to the United States, she found many things to worry her. (One was black widow spiders, which she was sure were going to crawl into her bed the year she lived in California.) But none of the strange new things she saw in America felt quite as unnerving if she could climb into bed with her older sister or tell stories to her younger brother. She now lives in Hesston, Kansas.
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