Campy (and camping) humor and a solid message will have readers wanting s’more! (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS CAMP OUT

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 4

The Ratsos go on a Big City Scouts camping trip.

When Big Lou brings his sons, Louie and Ralphie, and their scout group (introducing new characters as fellow scouts) on a big camping trip, he has a special surprise for them: Grandpa Ratso, who had been Big Lou’s scout leader back in the day, will be joining them to run the campout. Grandpa Ratso introduces them to the old Big City Scout Oath, which the older scouts latch onto: “No matter the problem / we solve it ourselves; / we know we can fix it / without any help.” They also adopt Grandpa’s dismissive attitude toward the handbook. This shift isn’t much of a stretch, as older side characters have already labeled brainy Velma a nerd and mocked her academic aptitude. The toxic masculinity that underlies this refusal to ask for help or direction is mined for all sorts of humorous mishaps—soggy tents, lack of food, and, of course, getting lost. Meanwhile, the younger scouts use their heads and, under the guidance of the handbook, rack up badges while saving the day, natch. The story’s climax brings in Grandma Ratso to set everyone straight, clearing up some confusion about the oath and reinforcing the message that it’s both smart and good to ask for help. While young readers may struggle with the cast size, the humor and funny illustrations make for a worthy compass.

Campy (and camping) humor and a solid message will have readers wanting s’more! (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0006-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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