ESTELA’S SWAP

Estela goes with her father and her brother to the Swap Meet, hoping to earn the ten dollars she needs to pay for folk-dancing lessons by selling a colorful music box that plays Cielito Lindo. After they have set up their stand, her father introduces her to the art of bargaining. Estela handles the customers’ offers well, but no one wants to pay anywhere near the price she’s asking. When a sudden gust of March wind blows away, all the paper flowers of the friendly woman in a neighboring stand, Estela impulsively gives her the music box that no one has purchased. “Suddenly she knew what she had to do, even if it meant she wouldn’t earn any money today.” In a surprise ending that careful readers may anticipate, Estela is surprised to receive something wonderful in return. “ ‘Since we are at a Swap Meet,’ the woman said, ‘it is only fair that we swap.’ ” Sanchez’s (Speak English for Us, Marisol!, not reviewed, etc.) colorful pastels effectively focus attention on the main characters and objects by delineating them clearly, while softening the outlines of the others. Seven Spanish names and expressions are included in a glossary and pronunciation guide on the half-title page, where, unfortunately, they may be overlooked. This well-crafted tale featuring a Mexican-American father and children will be wonderful for reading aloud to individuals or to groups. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58430-044-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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