cover image There Is a Tribe of Kids

There Is a Tribe of Kids

Lane Smith. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62672-056-5

Though Smith’s story is mostly built around terms for groups of animals— “a crash of rhinos,” “an unkindness of ravens”—it stars a solitary human child, a cross between Peter Pan and Mowgli. Dressed in leaves, he kneels among baby mountain goats (“There was a tribe of kids”) until their mother leads them out of reach. He dances with penguins until they swim away. He crawls along with a caterpillar, then hangs upside down next to it until the inevitable happens: “There was a flight of butterflies.” All of these goodbyes have a wistful sameness, so readers will rejoice when at last the child finds his own tribe of kids—a rainbow of leaf-clad children. One of the book’s delights is its shifting moods and colors, which feel like the movements of an orchestral work. The textures Smith (Return to Augie Hobble) builds up seem organically formed, as if waves and time had worn them down, yet the spreads are vivid and clean. Every living being, Smith implies, needs a place to belong, and children, especially, need other children. Ages 5–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)