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 knows a lot about moving. She was born in Portland, Oregon, but when she was two years old her parents moved their family to Ethiopia to work for the Presbyterian Church there. Jane Kurtz is the author of novels, picture books, and chapter books. After living in North Dakota (where she survived a natural disaster), Colorado, Illinois, and Kansas, she moved back to Portland, Oregon, where she now lives with her husband, the Reverend Leonard L. Goering, H.R.
Many children dream of becoming dancers, musicians, actors, and artists, but few have the opportunity, the skill, and the determination to live out those dreams. Rachel Isadora is the exception. When she was young, she wanted to be a ballerina--and she became one. And now she has firmly established herself in a second career as an artist with an impressive string of picture books, including Ben's Trumpet, a Caldecott Honor Book.
Born and raised in New York City, Rachel studied at the School of American Ballet (associated with the New York City Ballet) as a Ford Foundation scholarship student. She danced with the Boston Ballet until a foot injury forced her to consider another career: book illustration. "I had always drawn for my own entertainment," says Rachel, "but I'd never had any instruction, and I wasn't sure how to proceed. So I just took a collection of sketches-odds and ends on bits of paper-to the first editor who would see me. She suggested I do a book about what I knew best." The result was Max, published in 1976 and named an ALA Notable Book.
Since Max, Rachel has written and illustrated many other books, and has illustrated three books by her editor, Elizabeth Shub. When Rachel begins a new book, she first imagines the story through the pictures. I 'see' each illustration separately," she says. "I write a description of what I envision on each page; then I go over it with my editor and make revisions. Next I do the actual drawing, and finally I write the text."
Rachel Isadora lives in New York City with her two children. When she is not busy with her family, she spends most of her spare time drawing. "Work like this is a dancer's fantasy," she says. "Because ballet is so demanding, dancers' stage careers are short. They can only dream of going on and on forever. With art, I can go on and on, and for me it's the only work that compares in intensity and joy."