Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The Umbrella Queen

The Umbrella Queen

Fall 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Shirim Yim Bridges
Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo
ISBN: 978-0-06-075040-4
Hardcover Price: $16.99
The endpapers form the perfect frame for this delicate story set in Thailand: sunny yellow pages filled with brightly painted paper umbrellas. From first to last, however, there is a difference. The opening set shows traditional designs of flowers, leaves, and butterflies; the closing one shows elephants prancing, playing and parading tail-to-tail. And that is almost the whole story. A little girl named Noot longs to join the women of the village as they gather to paint umbrellas to sell in the village council's shop. When Noot's first attempts at mimicking her mother's designs turn out well, she is given five blank umbrellas and a finished one with instructions to copy the pattern. Noot begins well, but before long one of her favorite animals, the elephant, appears between the butterflies and leaves...and then another...and then another. Understandably, the adults are displeased and Noot's creativity must take a back seat to productivity. She consoles herself by making miniature doll-sized umbrellas decorated with elephants after the day's work is done. A happy ending involving a visit from the king rounds out this pleasant if predictable tale. There are minor drawbacks to this quiet story. Uniformly pale backgrounds and muted colors lend a sameness to the illustrations that undercuts the excitement of Noot's eventual triumph. One sentence near the beginning ends awkwardly in a preposition. And there is no hint as to the time period being presented. Nevertheless, those looking for a glimpse of another part of the world will find this satisfying.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

Look for this product at:
HarperCollins Children's Books/ Greenwillow Books

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