Powerful in its cleareyed optimism.

ARELI IS A DREAMER

A TRUE STORY BY ARELI MORALES, A DACA RECIPIENT

In her debut children’s book, a Dreamer recalls her journey from Mexico to New York and the subsequent reality of living as an undocumented immigrant.

Areli’s tale begins at Abuela’s house, where days brim “with family and sunshine,” delicious “mounds of tortillas and pollo con frijoles for supper,” and calls from Mamá and Papá from America. It’s an idyllic life, but it’s undercut when Areli’s big brother, Alex, born in America, returns to Nueva York, leaving Areli behind. Though Mamá and Papá work hard for “a better life,” the days pass—Areli’s birthday, Día de los Muertos, Navidad—with Areli separated from her family. Then one day Areli must leave Mexico and head to New York with a family friend. It’s a time of difficult goodbyes for Areli, and in the span of a few wordless pages, Areli’s in the midst of the “bigger and faster and noisier” bustle of New York, reunited with her family. In scene after scene of Areli’s life, Uribe’s colorful yet muted artwork depicts the young Dreamer’s voyage from Abuela’s house to America with a lovely sense of restrained appreciation. Morales, a DACA recipient, spins an admirable third-person memoir that deeply resonates thanks to keen details that conjure moods with a few choice words. Although Areli’s tale packs years of experiences in a tight 40-page picture book, the author maintains command of her readers’ attention by translating a life-disrupting migration into a confident, heartfelt story. Key highlights include Areli’s adjustment to life in America and an eye-opening trip to Ellis Island in the latter half of the book.

Powerful in its cleareyed optimism. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984893-99-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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