School Library Journal Reviews "Johnny Kaw"
School Library Journal (May 2013)
This folk hero is larger-than-life in every sense of the word. In an effort to find a farm big enough for their boy, who seems to “gain a pound every hour,” the Kaw family heads westward. After crossing the Missouri River into what will become Kansas, the Kaws feel that they have found a home. In true tall-tale fashion, Johnny then clears the land by hand and thus creates the Rocky Mountains; stands up to and tames a cyclone with his scythe; and, with a single breath, plants “miles and miles” of wheat. Prairie life is sweet for the devoted family, but the passing of time brings the inevitable passing of Johnny’s beloved mother. The story ends on a positive note, however, with Johnny acknowledging that her strong spirit will always be with him. The book is written in rhythmic prose that lends itself to read-alouds as well as independent reading. Sneed’s full-color illustrations in his exaggerated style serve the tale well and showcase not only the humor but also its tenderness. The story should have broad appeal in the Sunflower State, but readers in the rest of the country will also enjoy getting acquainted with this gentle giant.
—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY