Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, Illustrated by Holly Meade. Scholastic 2000
Lilting verse and bold, whimsical pictures tell the story of one mother’s efforts to quiet the animals – from the smallest mosquito to the great big elephant – as their sounds threaten to wake her baby.—publisher’s comments.
Cut paper collage with ink illustrations, we listen for the sounds of the animal before spying them. The translation of sounds into text is brilliant, especially in the breadth of less than usual creatures appearing with increasing size. While the book hushes the noise-makers in the book, it teaches quiet and stillness to hear and identify the sound-makers around us.
The baby is always near, nearly always in frame, even as the mother hears and goes to hush things further and further away, radiating outward. She is putting everyone to bed, because it is time for bed, and they obey her admonition. Even she, herself, begins to drift off. The final page is perfect in this really sweet, wonderful picture book.
By Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade
Papa calls on all the creatures of the jungle to help find his baby in this tender, noisy, and gloriously illustrated game of hide-and-seek.
“Jut-Ay, Baby, peek-a-boo,
Want to play? Where are you?”
Baby knows that Jut-Ay means morning has come, and it’s time to play. But where is Baby hiding? […] Jiak-jiak! Jiak-jiak! screeches a monkey in the banyan tree. Is Baby swinging there? Hornbill and snake, elephant and tiger — who can finally lead Papa to Baby’s hiding place?
Peek! is rendered in cut-paper collage, watercolor and loose rhymes. I adore picture books that provide opportunities to expand one’s vocabulary. Peek! has great adjectives and creatures alongside fun to say onomatopoeia. I wish I’d found more images as the color palette is fresh and bright.
While the world is a lovely and lively place, father is always keeping an eye out. As the game progresses, the animals get fiercer, the father signals an end to the game, the child coming to him when he calls. The game encourages independence and exploration even as it also reiterates relationships between young child and nature, child and parent. Similar to Hush! we are treated to subtle play with distance and scope. Like Hush! this picture book is an enjoyable one for parent and child–just be ready to play.
a bonus feature: a pronunciation guide: Jut-Ay (Shut-A)
Minfong Ho was born in Rangoon, Burma, and raised in both Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand. Her parents are of Chinese origin, so she spoke fluent Chinese in her home, Thai in the marketplace of Bangkok and English in school. She was educated in Thailand and Taiwan, before moving to the United States to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. There, she received her BA in Economics and History as well as her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
While attending Cornell University, Ho began writing her first short story, in an attempt to combat strong feelings of homesickness. She recognized that many Americans had false notions about life in Asia and she set out to change this by writing based on her own experience there. Her first short story eventually evolved into her first novel, Sing to the Dawn, which received first prize from the Council of Interracial Books for Children. Ho’s later book Hush! A Thai Lullaby, illustrated by Holly Meade was named a Caldecott Honor Book, an ALA Notable Children’s Book and The Horn Fanfare Book.
Holly Meade held a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design. A woodblock print artist “made her living illustrating children’s books, and after illustrating her first book in 1992, approximately 30 more books followed. A number of these books have received recognition through awards, the two most notable being a Caldecott Honor for Hush! A Thail Lullaby, written by Minfong Ho, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award for Creative Writing for John Willy and Freddy McGee. Holly Meade passed away on June 28, 2013.