Diversity, love and affection depicted visually, and a small format easily shared between an adult and a child add up to...

GRANDMA'S FAVORITE

Is it a universal truth that all grandmas indulge their grandchildren?

The grandmas in this book hail from many different countries, as indicated on an unlabeled map stretched across the front endpapers, with thumbnail pictures of interior illustrations as keys. There are visual clues as to geography in the illustrations (a Hawaiian appliqued quilt, a palm-lined cricket field, some architectural details in some illustrations, a jeepney with a license plate “Love2U Filipinas”), and different skin colors and hair textures provide hints to racial differences, but readers may need to look elsewhere to confirm country names. The mixed-media illustrations have a cartoonish cast, but the people are individuals, with some grandmas looking quite young and others much older, just as in real families. The rhyming text is simple, but it emphasizes the personalities and interests of the grown-ups and the connections that grandmas make with their grandchildren: “My grandma’s favorite hat does not have fancy bows. / She wears it when she’s fixing cars, / or in her workout clothes.” Some stereotypes are broken (the Belgian car-fixing granny), some endure (the Brazilian grandma’s fear of frogs). The companion volume Grandpa’s Favorite features different countries but uses the same format. Both end with small pictorial vignettes showing how grandparents and grandkids separated by distance stay in touch.

Diversity, love and affection depicted visually, and a small format easily shared between an adult and a child add up to good choices for Grandparent’s Day or the year round. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-617-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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