shouldn't come as a surprise that the author who penned the highly informative
and entertaining memoir, Cutted Chicken
in Shanghai, should bring these qualities to her first foray into
children's books. Within the 32 page
format standard for young readers, Sharon Winters manages to deftly fit not
only a wealth of facts about the lives, characteristics and challenges of
desert rodents, but also introduces a character filled with insecurities,
longings and fears individuals of every species (and age) can relate to.
As the youngest
of seven desert rat children, Leilani is ridiculed for her small size and
inability to measure up to her siblings' achievements.But, in seeking refuge against a close call
that turns her frustrations into all-out fear, Leilani happens upon a new
friend, who helps her understand that being short on physical attributes
doesn't make her short on value -- and that a little patience and belief can
spark truly amazing growth.
acknowledgement tells us the book was written for Sharon's youngest granddaughter (who shares
her name with the title character), it presents a warm and touching story of
universal appeal. Beautifully augmented by simply styled drawings that clearly portray
Leilani's emotions and environment, the author's words inspire readers to wish
along with "Runtie" that her dreams of growing as big, strong -- and
fast -- as her older brothers and sisters might be fulfilled, and to revel in
the whimsical resolution that changes her life by leaps and bounds.