Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/01/2015 “Auntie used to call me Cartwheel. Then came the war.” The first spread shows a joyful little girl in her Sudanese village. In the next, she is huddled with her auntie and other commuters in a big-city train. Indeed, nothing is the same. Cartwheel doesn’t speak English, so she feels like she is “standing under a waterfall of strange sounds.” Both text and art arrestingly describe how the girl wants to wrap herself in a blanket made of her own words and memories of her old world. Then one day a girl waves to her, and soon they are playing together, but words are still a problem, so it is up to the new friend to find a way they can communicate: origami figures. Slowly Cartwheel begins to feel words are softening their hard edges, and she makes a new blanket from them. The illustrations, a combination of watercolor and oils, heighten the effect of the thought-provoking story. Just the right format for children to think about immigrants and friendship. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2016 K-Gr 2—Following a war, Cartwheel and her aunt emigrate from their rural village to a westernized city. Under a barrage of foreign sights and sounds, Cartwheel finds comfort by wrapping herself in a "blanket" of familiar words and memories: "When I went out, it was like standing under a waterfall of strange sounds…. It made me feel alone." One day at the park, a blonde girl waves to her. Feeling scared, Cartwheel doesn't respond. Eventually they connect, and the girl starts teaching Cartwheel words, but Cartwheel is very self-conscious: "Sometimes I felt silly and I wanted to cry." At home, she practices the words until they become soft and familiar, and she starts to create a new "blanket" that represents her new life. Eventually she finds balance between the two. The blanket metaphor is powerful, and the way that sounds are depicted through shape and line works well. Cartwheel and her home are shown in bright warm colors, while the new country is portrayed through cool colors. Although Cartwheel and her aunt are the only nonwhite characters, their foreignness is represented through the color palette rather than dress or customs; care is taken to show that the new city is full of people dressed strangely and doing strange things. Unfortunately, the friendship is one-sided; rather than sharing culture and language between them, the girl does all the teaching and guiding, and Cartwheel isn't shown as having anything to offer. VERDICT This visually powerful book may resonate with recent immigrants. A solid addition for libraries.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.