The disparate visual and textual mélange of misinformation renders this well-intended but off-the-mark title skippable.

JUAN'S SWEET AND SPICY MEMORY

In this child’s introduction to Mexico, Juan prepares for the Cinco de Mayo festivities in his town.

A family of non–Spanish-speaking white tourists arrives, saying, “Taco? Taco?” Juan correctly guesses that they want—wait for it—tacos! As Juan shows the tourist family around, Yoon proceeds to provide facts about the Mexican culture, people, and food. Unfortunately, much of this information is either inaccurate or misleading. She claims that salsa is ground chili pepper “mixed with bell peppers, vinegar, and sugar” and asserts that Mexicans eat Tex-Mex food such as “chip-like nachos.” The simplistic declaration that the Aztecs “are the ancestors of the Mexican people,” when there were many different civilizations far older than the Aztecs such as the Olmecs, Zapotecs, and Maya, is worthy of a grade school report. The text’s awkward English phrasing also disrupts the narrative: “Juan, look at all those valuable corn.” Corr’s bright, primitive illustrations are colorful and lively but likewise misleading. Even taking into account artistic license, there is nothing to account for the anomalous placement of the Yucatán Peninsula’s Chichen Itzá and the central Mexican volcano Popocatepetl in the same landscape as the maguey plants of Tequila, Jalisco. Spanish flamenco dancers incongruously fill the Mexican plaza, and the male characters’ clothing and facial features are from all over the Caribbean, Latin America, and beyond.

The disparate visual and textual mélange of misinformation renders this well-intended but off-the-mark title skippable. (further information) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939248-12-1

Page Count: 38

Publisher: TanTan

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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