A treasure that reaches far beyond the traditional board-book audience.

RAMADAN

From the Celebrate the World series

This festive board book for toddlers, preschoolers, and early-elementary–age children introduces the practices of and meaning behind Ramadan, the Muslims’ month of fasting.

From the timing of the month around the crescent moon to the physical practice of fasting during daylight hours, this sturdy little book is packed with almost everything young children should know about Ramadan. Many nonfiction books about Ramadan explain the practices, but few give both facts and feelings as this book does, which is appropriate for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Eliot evokes the spirit of Ramadan, “a time to reflect on ourselves, to be thankful, and to help others.” The decorative illustrations show families diverse in skin color, hair texture, and attire as they celebrate, work, play, and pray in societies around the world. The vibrant primary colors pop against blue and orange backgrounds, and the floral patterns and the stylized representation of the natural world strengthen this volume. Only the reasons for fasting are a bit watered down for a general audience: “We fast because we know that there are many people who are less fortunate than us. We appreciate how lucky we are.” This is more a benefit of fasting than the religious reason, but it is easily understood. The book ends with the same bittersweet emotions felt at the end of Ramadan: “We will remember to love our family, pray, and give back to others all throughout the year.”

A treasure that reaches far beyond the traditional board-book audience. (Board book. 2-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0635-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

From the Celebrate the World series

The traditions and history of one of Mexico’s most important holidays are introduced in this latest of Eliot’s Celebrate the World series.

From setting up the flower-festooned altars to decorating the calaveras, the preparations depicted involve entire communities over several weeks. Characters in cowboy hats, sombreros, and baseball caps place the final touches on skeletons in full lucha libre regalia or spangled mariachi outfits. However, instead of accurately using Mexico’s name for the holiday, Día de Muertos, Eliot uses the English back-translation, “Día de los Muertos,” as is common in the U.S. even though the story evidently takes place in Mexico. Also, aside from stating that the celebration “is an ancient tradition,” there is no mention of its Indigenous, pre-European/Christian roots nor does the book actively distinguish between Día de Muertos and Halloween. The first-person narration vacillates between child and adult perspectives. “We do all this to celebrate the beauty of life and death rather than mourn it.” Gutierrez’s mixed-media illustrations are convulsive, crowded panes of frenetic activity. Exaggerated facial features border on stereotypical caricatures—snouts and bug eyes abound. Contributing to the crowded page design is the unfortunate choice of board rather than picture-book format. Consequently, the initial perception is that this series is geared toward toddlers, when it is the school-age child who would most benefit from the information in this book.

Pass. (Board book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1515-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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