Sunday, June 14, 2009

Josias, Hold the Book - Kirkus Reviews

On his Haitian farm, young Josias struggles to develop his bean crop that doesn't seem to want to grow this year. Seeing his friend Chrislove walk by on his way to school, Josias refuses the daily invitation to attend and "hold the book," noting his more important role, in a joint effort to earn a living as the family's vegetable gardener. Each successive day of frustration over the lack of a bean crop results in hours of thinking and trials of providing extra water and donkey dung for fertilizer. Josias finally comes to the realization that a book might provide a working solution. Now Josias must convince his father that school will serve an important purpose in the family's livelihood. Elvgren effectively portrays the dilemma faced by a majority of small agrarian families in an impoverished and predominantly illiterate rural society. Soft watercolors in muted shades of blues and greens offer the simple beauty of the countryside. Josias's well-meaning, earnest behavior comes through in several expressive facial portrayals as he thinks about solutions to his problem. Despite the difficulties, Elvgren presents a positive look at a struggling part of the world. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

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