The Girl Who Saved Yesterday

Julius Lester, illus. by Carl Angel. Creston (PGW, dist.), $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939547-24-8
Ailing ancient trees with gray, masklike faces bid a mystical girl, Silence, to go to the human world and “save Yesterday.” Silence recalls her life as a foundling, banished by humans and raised in the forest. When she enters her old village, she is greeted with suspicion: “Her dark skin shone as bright as the blackness which surrounds the stars and makes them gleam. She was taller now... but they knew who she was.” Upon her arrival, sudden nightfall and brilliant beams of orange light shock the village, and Silence feels the earth sobbing with “the sounds of a heart that was not loved.” With help from trees and humans alike, Silence clears the ground and reveals a forgotten past, signified by glowing pink stones. Newbery Honor author Lester brings together folktale elements for a tale of planetary healing, and Angel (Sky High) contributes dramatic, feverish paintings of African animals, thatched huts, and supernatural entities. Silence’s story is truncated, with details of her past, the trees’ history, and human generations stitched together unevenly. Lester laments a bygone Yesterday, yet his tale’s complex meanings feel underdeveloped. Ages 4–9. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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