Eaters of all ages will enjoy learning about the history of this popular food gone global.



The true story of Momofuku Ando, who persevered to invent a speedy, nutritious, and tasty ramen to help feed the hungry in post–World War II Japan.

A year after the war ended, people were still starving for food. Realizing that the “world is peaceful only when everyone has enough to eat,” Ando decided to make food his life’s work. In a backyard shed, Ando attempted to realize his dream of a more nutritious ramen. He experimented by adding different ingredients to a basic recipe of flour, salt, and water: eggs, powdered milk, and even spinach! He invented a way to infuse the noodles with flavor, but the noodles were still too tough. Then, watching his wife make tempura gave him a brilliant idea—fry the noodles! Frying creates tiny holes in the noodles, causing them to soften after just a few minutes in hot water. Voilà: tender, chewy noodles in hot, tasty soup that was ready in two minutes! With an aesthetic that’s straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki animated film, Urbanowicz’s illustrations pair deliciously with Wang’s concise, conversational text. Clever use of lighting, white space, and comic-book compositions moderate pacing in all the right places. The illustrator earns brownie points for accurate cultural details: geta (wooden sandals), cascading cherry blossoms, kanji characters, etc.

Eaters of all ages will enjoy learning about the history of this popular food gone global. (biographical note) (Informational picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-499-80703-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A worthy introduction to this master artist.


Claude Monet spends an early morning in his “studio boat,” painting scenes of the Seine.

Rosenstock and GrandPré, who’ve amply demonstrated their ability to distill an artist’s work into a rich essence for young readers with biographies of Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and Chagall, now describe an imagined morning in the life of Monet, a founding impressionist. Here, the painter, now rich and famous, sets off to work at 3:30 a.m. In her respectful narrative, the writer’s word choice is precise and revealing. Monet “clambers aboard” his boat and counts his canvases in French: “un, deux, trois, quatre.” Rosenstock describes his working process, “painting the river’s colors, and the air around the colors,” and she weaves in some historical background. GrandPré’s illustrations, painted with acrylics, support and enhance the text. Readers see an older White man with a lush white beard and the “broad belly” and “sturdy legs” of the text. Toward the end, one particularly appealing spread shows Monet’s tools—the canvas, the palette, the brushes—and the artist, satisfied with his morning’s work. The colors are astonishing: from the bright aquamarine of the cover, the faintly violet dawn, the pinks, yellows, and oranges of the sunlight, and the tea-colored interiors. Always, there are brush strokes of other colors visible. An informative author’s note extends the artist’s biography, but the picture of his life painted in this single encounter is sufficient. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 63% of actual size.)

A worthy introduction to this master artist. (sources, acknowledgments) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.


The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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