cover image CIRCLES OF HOPE


Karen Lynn Williams, , illus. by Linda Saport. . Eerdmans, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5276-2

In this hopeful, gentle account, Williams (Galimoto ) frames the tale of a Haitian boy's struggle to keep a tree alive against the larger story of his country's struggle against poverty. Young Facile plants a mango tree for his baby sister Lucía, but his good intentions are not enough to keep it safe. Goats eat the first sapling, the rain washes away the second, and the third is burned by a land-clearing fire. When the boy realizes he can protect Lucía's gift with stones, his hope returns, and the tree begins to grow. Pastels with small, soft-edged figures, dwarfed by landscapes saturated with orange and yellow, give a visceral sense of Haiti's hot sun and hardscrabble hillsides. Saport (Before You Were Born ) portrays Facile's new hope by replacing hot colors with cool tones. She shows Facile and Lucía cavorting in the green lollipop-like branches of their fully-grown tree, then draws Haiti's rounded hills, each with more stone circles and more round green trees. Each grows from a deep blue trunk; it is easy to imagine what the shade of the leaves means to the people standing beneath it. "One year at a time, little circles of hope began to grow on the mountainsides of Haiti, and inside each circle grew a tree," Williams concludes. A glossary helps readers understand the sprinkling of Haitian Creole in the narrative. This uplifting tale suggests that one child can make a difference—a powerful message for readers. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)