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There Is a Tribe of Kids
by Lane Smith


Overview -

When a young boy embarks on a journey alone . . .
he trails a colony of penguins,
undulates in a smack of jellyfish,
clasps hands with a constellation of stars,
naps for a night in a bed of clams,
and follows a trail of shells,
home to his tribe of friends.  Read more...


 
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More About There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
 
 
 
Overview

When a young boy embarks on a journey alone . . .
he trails a colony of penguins,
undulates in a smack of jellyfish,
clasps hands with a constellation of stars,
naps for a night in a bed of clams,
and follows a trail of shells,
home to his tribe of friends.

If Lane Smith's Caldecott Honor Book "Grandpa Green" was an homage to aging and the end of life, "There Is a Tribe of Kids" is a meditation on childhood and life's beginning. Smith's vibrant sponge-paint illustrations and use of unusual collective nouns such as" smack" and "unkindness" bring the book to life. Whimsical, expressive, and perfectly paced, this story plays with language as much as it embodies imagination.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781626720565
  • ISBN-10: 1626720568
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publish Date: May 2016
  • Page Count: 40
  • Reading Level: Ages 5-8


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > Imagination & Play
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Nature & the Natural World - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-02-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

Though Smith’s story is mostly built around terms for groups of animals— “a crash of rhinos,” “an unkindness of ravens”—it stars a solitary human child, a cross between Peter Pan and Mowgli. Dressed in leaves, he kneels among baby mountain goats (“There was a tribe of kids”) until their mother leads them out of reach. He dances with penguins until they swim away. He crawls along with a caterpillar, then hangs upside down next to it until the inevitable happens: “There was a flight of butterflies.” All of these goodbyes have a wistful sameness, so readers will rejoice when at last the child finds his own tribe of kids—a rainbow of leaf-clad children. One of the book’s delights is its shifting moods and colors, which feel like the movements of an orchestral work. The textures Smith (Return to Augie Hobble) builds up seem organically formed, as if waves and time had worn them down, yet the spreads are vivid and clean. Every living being, Smith implies, needs a place to belong, and children, especially, need other children. Ages 5–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)

 
BookPage Reviews

Finding family

Picture books about collective nouns for animal groups have been done before. You could say this is what Lane Smith’s new book is about, but delightfully it is much more. 

A boy in the wild is dressed in leaves and has no family or friends in sight. He wanders the landscape and meets animals—an army of caterpillars, a troop of monkeys, etc. The names for animal collectives are unusual ones, indeed, and Smith opts for the terms not as commonly used—a turn of turtles, a smack of jellyfish and an unkindness of ravens. Smith uses these delicious words to further the plot (the unkindness of ravens unkindly drop the boy, once again alone, on a formation of rocks). Even the book’s title refers to a name for a group of baby goats that is lesser known; most often we hear “a herd of kids,” not “tribe.” 

But herein lies the brilliance of Smith’s story: Instead of just listing unusual names for animal collectives, he brings readers a touching tale of family and belonging. The book opens with the lonely boy playing with a group of young goats, and bringing “tribe” full circle, he eventually stumbles upon a group of other wild folks. No longer will he wander alone. Cleverly, Smith makes effective use of tense in the book: All the sentences are in past tense until the boy meets his fellow humans. No more “was.” Now, “there is a tribe of kids” and there is a newfound family. The illustrations—textured mixed-media art that makes economic use of space to show the progression of time—are spectacular. 

It’s a story that is, at turns, funny and moving—and always entertaining. It’s not to be missed.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews