This book succeeds at both specificity and universality, presenting the distinct culture of the gaucho cowboy and the plains...

ABUELO

More than 20 years after Abuela, illustrated by Elisa Kleven (1991), Dorros offers a gentle story of the lessons a grandfather imparts to his grandson while riding horses together on the plains before the boy moves to the city.

This picture book also calls to mind the author’s Papá and Me, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez (2008), as it lovingly expresses the lasting impact that time spent with a caring adult family member can have on a young child. The brief English text weaves in Spanish words and phrases with literal translations immediately provided (“ ‘No te preocupes,’ don’t worry, Abuelo told me...”). Though this technique is somewhat redundant, it may be helpful for readers who do not know Spanish. Colón’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations expertly bring to life both expansive landscapes and subtle emotions, as the grandson transitions to city life. The lessons learned on the open plains help the young boy come to feel at home in the city—laughing when he feels fear, standing strong against a bully and finding comfort in gazing at the city stars.

This book succeeds at both specificity and universality, presenting the distinct culture of the gaucho cowboy and the plains of South America through a story that will resonate broadly with many children and families. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-168627-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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A fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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