Auntie Luce's Talking Paintings

illus. by Ken Daley. 36p. Groundwood. Oct. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781773060415.
OrangeReviewStarGr 1–4—On a visit to Haiti, an unnamed girl's Aunt Luce paints her portrait. Woven together with the girl's feelings and her aunt's endearments, the "talking paintings" bring to mind fragmented tales. Portraits of notable figures from the country's history provide subtle openings to sharing facts. Family members promote personal reflection of identity and belonging. Generally positive and always child-centered, the stories necessarily brush against the violence mixed in with any country's history. Aunt Luce comments, "To paint Haiti takes the darkest colors and the brightest ones, and all the colors in between." Such natural metaphors and poetic ideas will make this a good choice for sharing aloud in the classroom and creating emotional connection to a subject of study. Furthermore, the illustrator's Afro-Caribbean roots amplify the love song the Haitian American author has composed to Haiti. The deep, rugged browns flecked with abstract orange, pink, purple, and blue highlight the lifelike beauty of the characters. The broad brush strokes and intense colors keep the visuals vibrant and highlight the joyful exuberance of the island.
VERDICT An excellent selection for exploring deep connections to Haiti through love, family, history, and art.

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