skip to Main Content

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk
with illustrations by Alexandria Neonakis
is reviewed by Hilary Taber.

Kulu_cover_snd1-300x236

When I first saw the cover of Sweetest Kulu (Inhabit Media, $16.95, Ages 0-6), I knew I was hooked. I said to a friend, “I think this is the dearest picture book cover I have ever seen!” I still think so! Of course I wondered what “Kulu” meant. The back of the book provided me with the information I needed.

Kulu is an Inuktitut endearment given to babies, and younger children. The author, Celina Kalluk, is Inuit and an acclaimed throat singer. Her book is as sweet as the sweetest Kulu pictured on the cover. This charming picture book is a gentle lullaby poem from a mother to her child. It tells the story of the day that artic animals from the surrounding region hear about the birth of Kulu, for the wind has spread the news about this remarkable baby.

“Melodies of Wind arrived, sharing stories of how the weather forms,
and telling you to always listen closely. Wise wind had learned your name,
charming Kulu, and invited the world to meet you.”

Each animal that comes to see Kulu bestows a gift upon the baby, much as the fairies in Sleeping Beauty bestowed a gift to the newborn girl. However, each gift beautifully reflects the tie between nature and this brand new arrival, this bundle of joy. One of my favorite pages shows the nobility of the Caribou juxtaposed with the small, sweetly sleeping Kulu on his back:

“Caribou choose patience for you, cutest Kulu. He gave you the ability
to look to the stars, so that you will always know where you are and
may gently lead the way.”

Such wonderful gifts are given by each animal that they far outweigh the gifts given to Sleeping Beauty of beauty and riches. Each gift connects the baby with the land, with the gift of believing in yourself, the ability to give love, the predisposition to help those in need, and so on until you know that Kulu will be guided by these lessons for life. Kulu, in being blessed by the wind and each animal, will always be a blessing to others along the path of life. I can’t think of a better way for a life to begin. Illustrator Alexandra Neonakis brings to life each scene with adorable, but also breathtaking illustrations that combine the sweetest Kulu with each animal who has come to visit.

Sweetest-kulu-spread.jpg

Interior artwork from Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk with illustrations by Alexandria Neonakis, Inhabit Media ©2014.

This is one of those books that make you want to hug it to you, because it’s that good and true. If I had a child, I would want that child to have the blessings of a good character that Kulu receives. As an aunt, I wish these for my nephew for they make for a truly happy and fulfilling life. Children will love learning the names of each arctic animal. The magical, rhythmic language of the book will be a wonderful bridge between the activities of the day, helping children transition peacefully into their just-before-bed reading.

Sweetest Kulu would make an ideal present for a new baby in your life, and an excellent baby shower gift as well. The whole world seems to be in love with Kulu in this book, and I am too! Take the opportunity to purchase this book now if you have little ones to read to, and buy another to stash away for that baby shower you know you will be invited to! I will be buying one especially for my nephew, who is to me one of the sweetest children there ever was! I want him to learn these important lessons so that they will be a blessing to him all of his life, and guide him to true happiness.

Interested in more stories like Sweetest Kulu? Contact Inhabit Media or Birch Bark Books.

National Disabilities Month and National Anti-Bullying Month

I could not let October end without mentioning this delightful picture book that brings the whole point of National Disabilities Month and National Anti-Bullying Month home.

13293234281Written sensitively by Robert Kroupa with stunning, detailed illustrations by Hannah E. Harrison, Just Like You ($16.99, Seven Legs Press, ages 4-8)  is a meaningful story of two friends – Henry, a deaf mouse and Boris, a disabled spider. Together with all of nature’s other creatures, these pals inhabit Piney Forest but live alone in a little tin cottage. Teased and goaded constantly because of their differences, Henry and Boris find comfort in each other’s company, but deep down wish for acceptance.

When a raging fire begins to wreak havoc on the lives and homes of the very creatures who mock and bully Henry and Boris, they don’t hesitate to find a creative way to alert everyone of the danger. Because of their heroics, the two are welcomed into Piney Forest. Finally, their wishes come true. The friends are appreciated for who they really are and all they have to offer!

“Because now we all see

that it really is true.

You are just like us,

and we are

Just

Like You!”

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be distributed to a pre-selected charity. Buyers can choose from the following: HollyRod Foundation, PACER Center, Art of Elysium and the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Find out more at http://www.JustLikeYouFoundation.org.
Ronna Mandel reviewed Just Like You.

Nancy Tillman Shares The Love

You may know author and illustrator Nancy Tillman from her bestselling picture book, On the Night You Were Born or maybe from Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You. With the addition of her latest picture book, The Crown on Your Head ($16.99, Feiwel & Friends, ages 4-8) one wonderful common theme emerges –  children everywhere need to know that they are special and loved.

You will be pulled into the pages from the very first lines:

“On the day that we met and I put you to bed,
I noticed a crown on the top of your head.

It was made up of sparkling, glimmering things
like moonlight and fireflies, and dragonfly wings.”

Had this book been published when my children were young, I would have read this book to them nightly to instill in them a strong sense of self and confidence. And one of my favorites lines is just below:

“I always knew just what your crown meant.
It said that you were MAGNIFICENT.”

Tillman has an unerring ability to convey her convictions through warm, gleaming artwork, artwork that captures a little one’s inner joy and contentment at just being themselves and being loved for who they are. This book is pure gold.

The Crown on Your Head was reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

Of Thee I Sing

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters, written by Barack Obama and illustrated by Loren Long is reviewed by Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. Stop by and see her when you’re next in the Valley.

1It is time to put politics aside.  Democrats, Republicans, Independents, anyone who has children will, should adore this incredibly beautifully written and illustrated book.  Helping a child to have self worth as they journey through life is one of the hardest jobs a parent has.  In Of Thee I Sing, President Obama reinforces all the positive qualities of his daughters, as he asks them and, in fact, all the children of this country…  “Have I told you that you are smart?”  “Have I told you that you are kind?”  “Have I told you that you are creative?”

To illustrate the answers to those and other questions, he tells of Americans who have inspired generation after generation. 

“Have I told you that you are strong?  A woman named Helen Keller fought her way through long, silent darkness.  Though she could not see or hear, she taught us to look at and listen to each other.  Never waiting for life to get easier, she gave others courage to face their challenges.”

part-of-a-family_240bHe tells his daughters that what makes this country strong and great is because it is made up of…

“People of all races, religions and beliefs… sharing their unique gifts and giving us the courage to lift one another up, to keep up the fight, to work and build upon all that is good in our nation.” 

So listen, children, listen.

I strongly believe this special book and its message should be passed down from our children to their children, to their children.  It tells of those who have come before us that made this country a better place and by our own actions and our children’s, we should never stop trying to do the same.  Of Thee I Sing is a gift for the ages.

lindymichaelspic2The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Back To Top
%d bloggers like this: