Life Is Beautiful!

Life Is Beautiful! tr. from Spanish by Jon Brokenbrow. illus. by Nívola Uyá. 28p. Cuento de Luz. 2013. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-84-15619-26-0.
PreS-Gr 2—During a sleepless, hunger-filled night, a young Kenyan girl is visited by a winged giraffe that takes her on a journey across Africa. Flying over mountains and rainforests, the child appreciates the beauty of her country. When the animal cryptically notes, "there are also places where the rainbow sometimes loses its colors when it sees that children are no longer smiling," Violet wants to find a solution. The giraffe encourages her to ask prosperous countries to be generous and giving, and adds that "tickling everyone" could also help solve the world's problems. Tears of laughter then "watered the land, and everything turned green, filled with light, and filled with life." Uyá's stylized oil paintings of landscapes bathed in orange and red radiate warmth. Unfortunately, this dreamlike tale is full of exclamatory sentences that feel forced ("The plants and animals are amazing!"; "I want you to laugh for real!"), and the humanitarian theme is hampered by peculiar fantasy elements.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

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