Following on his Sibert Honor–winning Separate Is Never Equal (2014), Tonatiuh further marks himself as a major nonfiction...

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FUNNY BONES

POSADA AND HIS DAY OF THE DEAD CALAVERAS

Tonatiuh’s Mixtec-influenced illustrations make an apt complement to this picture-book biography of one of Mexico’s most beloved artists, José Guadalupe Posada.

Don Lupe, as he was called, used the printing techniques of lithography, engraving, and etching. Each technique is summarized in four-panel layouts, and sample images of his calaveras and calacas (skulls and skeletons) are liberally incorporated into the illustrations. Many of the iconic images associated with Día de los Muertos were created by Posada as integral elements of his world-renowned political satire, particularly during the Mexican Revolution. Tonatiuh skillfully blends his own distinctive style of digital collage and hand drawings not only to highlight events in Posada’s life, but also to add whimsical elements by introducing contemporary calaveras. He incorporates amusing, thoughtful exercises for young readers into the narrative, prompting them to interpret the messages behind Posada’s artwork. Also included is an in-depth author’s note on the history of the Day of the Dead and an extensive glossary. In addition, a bibliography, list of art credits, and venues where Posada’s art is displayed are provided for further exploration of Posada’s life and work. Phonetic pronunciation is, unfortunately, only sporadically and unevenly sprinkled throughout the story.

Following on his Sibert Honor–winning Separate Is Never Equal (2014), Tonatiuh further marks himself as a major nonfiction talent with this artistically beautiful and factually accessible offering that effectively blends artistic and political content for young readers. (Picture book/biography. 7-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1647-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Yet another novel about dreading middle school, this breezy beach read is well-done but offers little new.

11 BEFORE 12

Two BFFs tackle the anxiety-riddled transition to middle school by creating a list of 11 things to accomplish before their 12th birthdays in November.

Kaylan has what her Italian grandmother called “agita”—anxiety—and she has maximum-high levels at the prospect of sixth grade with its cliques and mean girls. Lots is changing in the white girl’s life: her dad has moved to Arizona and her mom is sad; her one-year-older brother, Ryan, once her friend, is now her tormentor; and she is beginning to get butterflies around boys. Kaylan and her best friend, Ari, white and Jewish, create a list, ranging from getting detention and makeovers to first kisses and sabotaging Ryan. When Ari connects with friends from Hebrew school and summer camp, the two BFFs fight. Kaylan’s not-quite-teen first-person voice perfectly captures the horrors of starting at a new school, from the prospect of eating alone in the cafeteria to the awkwardness of meeting a new neighbor boy, biracial (black/white) Jason. Jason supplies most of the book’s diversity; one of the indistinguishable lunch-table friends mentions being Korean but is undeveloped as a character. As is typical for the genre, Kaylan matures and learns to cope with unpredictability, even participating in the talent show as the fastest clementine peeler in school.

Yet another novel about dreading middle school, this breezy beach read is well-done but offers little new. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241174-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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