From Publishers Weekly
In this fantastical, sweeping picture book, Ringgold reintroduces a character from Dinner at Aunt Connie's in order to chronicle some pivotal moments in African American history. Shown here in an earlier phase, Lonnie is living in a Paris orphanage. He is visited one night by a magical Love Bird who inspires him to "look everywhere" for his loved ones. On his surreal search, Lonnie combs the streets and sights of Paris, even speaking to the Mona Lisa inside the Louvre. The journey changes course when Lonnie encounters the spirits of his deceased grandparents and parents. They explain both Lonnie's mixed racial heritage and, more broadly, black Americans' contributions to the arts (e.g., the Harlem Renaissance) and to the Allies' victories in the two World Wars. With an emphasis on acceptance and love, Ringgold's text illustrates that families can come in all kinds of configurations. In her dense acrylic paintings, Ringgold refrains from literalism, effectively depicting such difficult subject matter as violence and even death with slightly abstract perspectives. This meaty volume invites repeated examination and will hold special appeal for African Americans and children in adoptive and/or mixed-race families. As a bonus, French phrases and their English translations are sprinkled throughout, and a short glossary of historical figures and movements appears at the end. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4?This unusual story involves Lonnie, the red-haired, green-eyed boy introduced in Ringgold's Dinner at Aunt Connie's House (Hyperion, 1993). He pursues an elusive "Love Bird" around Paris until it leads him to a dreamlike place where he learns his family's history and how he came to be orphaned. Lonnie meets his African-American grandfather, who expatriated to Paris in the 1920s; his French grandmother; his soldier father, who was killed in World War II; and his Jewish mother, who died in the Holocaust. Lonnie is told that he was smuggled to the U.S. by an African-American student. Though he wants to stay with his family, they convince him to return to the "real world," and the magical Love Bird transports him to his adoptive parents. The Love Bird is a somewhat awkward device but it helps bridge the fantasy and realism in the story. The artwork, similar in style to that of Ringgold's earlier books, also incorporates elements of fantasy and realism. The artist shows strong positive images of whites and blacks together and makes children aware that both Jews and African Americans have endured prejudice. However, because many issues and historical references are touched upon but not fully explained, youngsters may be left with many unanswered questions. While not totally successful as a story, this unique book focuses on aspects of history that are not commonly covered for this audience.?Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.