OUR CORNER GROCERY STORE

Anyone would be lucky to live near a grocery store like Anna Maria’s Italian grandparents’ charming place. (Note: readers unfamiliar with the words nonno and nonna won’t know the store owners are the girl’s grandparents.) More chronicle than plot-driven story, this gentle book tracks young Anna Maria’s Saturday as she helps out at the store, from arranging produce displays to greeting customers (“Ciao!”) to end-of-day cleanup. Matter-of-fact descriptions are contagiously satisfying: “I make sure everything is in neat rows, while Nonno Domenico writes the prices on little cardboard signs” and “We sold lots of tomatoes and lettuce today, and every single box of strawberries.” Children will devour Beingessner’s wonderfully detailed illustrations, which lovingly depict the store’s bounty—especially the enticing candy counter—in a delicately etched style reminiscent of Roz Chast’s hand-lettered cartoons. (Don’t miss the cat in every spread!) Occasionally, the text is excessively descriptive (the candies listed in the text are clearly labeled in the artwork, for example), but overall, this warm, home-baked offering from Toronto is an affectionate tribute to small nonno-and-nonna stores everywhere. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-88776-868-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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There’s always tomorrow.

TOMORROW IS WAITING

A lyrical message of perseverance and optimism.

The text uses direct address, which the title- and final-page illustrations suggest comes from an adult voice, to offer inspiration and encouragement. The opening spreads reads, “Tonight as you sleep, a new day stirs. / Each kiss good night is a wish for tomorrow,” as the accompanying art depicts a child with black hair and light skin asleep in a bed that’s fantastically situated in a stylized landscape of buildings, overpasses, and roadways. The effect is dreamlike, in contrast with the next illustration, of a child of color walking through a field and blowing dandelion fluff at sunrise. Until the last spread, each child depicted in a range of settings is solitary. Some visual metaphors falter in terms of credibility, as in the case of a white-appearing child using a wheelchair in an Antarctic ice cave strewn with obstacles, as the text reads “you’ll explore the world, only feeling lost in your imagination.” Others are oblique in attempted connections between text and art. How does a picture of a pale-skinned, black-haired child on a bridge in the rain evoke “first moments that will dance with you”? But the image of a child with pink skin and brown hair scaling a wall as text reads “there will be injustice that will challenge you, and it will surprise you how brave you can be” is clearer.

There’s always tomorrow. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99437-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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