by Sam Juliano
Kirkus raved “Smith soars in this earnest, meditative work about longing, the joy of interaction, and family.” In a similarly glowing assessment Publishers Weekly offered “Every living being, Smith implies, needs a place to belong, and children, especially need other children.” School Library Journal gushed, urging repeated visitation: “There is much to savor and explore in this cleverly crafted picture book, and readers will glean more with each perusal.” The unbridled fervor continued for months since the book’s early year release, and numerous respondents on Good Reads were predicting it would win the Caldecott Medal. Alas a controversy followed the initial hoopla that centered around the use of one word on the book’s title and how it was brought to bear on the book’s art. Though the vast majority of the book’s admirers are by and large staying the coarse, the mild dissension in some quarters has slowed down the buzz for the book, allowing some of the year’s other picture book treasures to capture the lion’s share of the talking points. Will the real Lane Smith please stand up? Oh yes, the book’s title and creator. There is a Tribe of Kids is a non-stop symphony of movement, a habitat trotting exploration of a cluster of nouns and how they apply to a young boy in the Tarzan mold, dressed in leaves (though his comfortable fitting footwear doesn’t quite conform) who travels with abandon.