Joyous multigenerational fun.

BISA'S CARNAVAL

A young girl and her great-grandmother share their love for a special annual holiday.

It’s Carnaval time in Brazil, and Clara can’t wait to celebrate it with her family and especially with her bisa (great-grandmother). In the lead-up to the festivities Clara and Bisa spend time together going through Bisa’s memories of previous years and lovingly choosing the colorful fabrics Bisa will use to create beautiful fantasias—costumes—for Clara, her cousins, and her sisters. Bisa herself doesn’t attend Carnaval this year due to her age, and as Clara loses herself to the sounds and scents around her, she realizes there is something she can do to make it all even better. The Brazilian duo of author Pastro and illustrator Coroa bring to life the street Carnaval of Olinda, a city in the northeast of Brazil, with a story that celebrates one of the country’s most important and beloved holidays with humor, truth, and heart. The picture book showcases Carnaval as a heartwarming multigenerational celebration and is peppered with easy-to-contextualize Portuguese words (a glossary is provided at the end). The illustrations are suitably celebratory, with bright colors and detailed and festive backgrounds as well as a plethora of characters who represent the diversity of the Brazilian people. Clara and her family have light-brown skin.

Joyous multigenerational fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-61762-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.

BEING YOU

Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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