A gem. (Picture book. 3-7)

A MOON FOR MOE AND MO

The tale of a nascent friendship between Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hassan, two kids from Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York; they have different backgrounds…yet so many things in common.

Moe and Mo meet by chance at the grocery store where their moms happen to be shopping. Because of their similar curly dark hair, brown eyes, and olive-toned skin, Moe and Mo are mistaken for twins by the store owner, who gives them each a falafel. They are also quick to realize that they share more than just a similar look and have the same—at times reckless—passion for sweets and bouncing balls. Weeks pass, and they return to the store, Mrs. Feldman for Rosh Hashanah, the holiday celebrating the Jewish New Year, and Mrs. Hassan for Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The kids’ mothers are not indifferent to the developing camaraderie and agree to a picnic bringing the two families together to enjoy rugelach and date cookies. Author Zalben and illustrator Amini are immensely successful in creating parallels between the two boys’ lives, with each aspect mirrored both in the narrative and graphically. Amini’s vibrant collages capture both the busyness of the neighborhood and the growing friendship between the families. Completing the educational effort are two succinct informational sheets on both Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan along with two recipes for each tradition.

A gem. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-727-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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