A rousing read-aloud begging for enthusiastic performers.

PAR-TAY!

DANCE OF THE VEGGIES (AND THEIR FRIENDS)

Greenfield invites children to imagine what a fridge full of veggies might do once their people leave for the evening.

They dance, of course—once Cabbage summons them forth as the family departs. Greenfield’s beginning and ending passages are in free verse. In between, syncopated rhymes introduce the fruits and vegetables, many of whom take up instruments to “make a mighty music / for the party that’s to come.” After turns by Zucchini and Hip-Hop String Bean, “The baby limas wobble-dance, / can hardly stand at all, / their mamas run / and catch them, / the moment they start to fall.” Next up: hot chili peppers and a stately waltz from Mr. Corn and Ms. Arugula. “Then, / the sweet potato sisters / dance as sweet as pie, / pirouette and flit / and flutter, / curtsy with a sigh.” After working up a sweat, it’s time to slow-dance back into the “delicious coldness” of the fridge, “(sweet potatoes to the bin),” all contemplating “their / fantabulous / PAR-TAY. / YEAHHHH.” The gifted Tate’s illustrations resemble loose, translucent watercolors contoured by wide, waxy lines. Aside from some pink tutus for the sweet potato sisters and Mr. Corn’s neat mustache, the visual focus is on the veggies’ hip exuberance rather than gender stereotypes.

A rousing read-aloud begging for enthusiastic performers. (author’s note, references) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9977720-2-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Alazar Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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