The knee-slapping humor, retro feel of the illustrations and the included recipe for Willy’s special sauce serve up some...

TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ

Many people boast that their barbecue is out of this world, but Willy’s fine-smelling and lip-smacking meal attracts visitors from outer space.

McCauley chooses a sweltering palette of yellow, brown and peach to cast the hardworking farmer on a hot Texas day. Observant readers will spot the flying saucer approaching as twilight falls. Soon, the inky black of space descends with the spaceship: “Some colored lights from outer space / Are lightin’ up the whole dang place!” Here, pastel shots of color serve to spotlight the alarmed animals on the farm, while a sinuous, pale yellow, wavy band of smoke wafts through the scene. The amazing aroma has drawn the “small green men” out to sample the fare and dance a “DO-SI-DO…a-fore [they] go.” They claim, “We don’t want your leader, Willy, / Just your BARBECUE and chili.” Duval chooses just the right amount of Texas twang to spice up the lively rhyming text. But soon, the aliens have taken over like unwanted party guests. They have had fun, wreaked some havoc and left the farm damaged. So Willy and his pet cat and dog board the UFO. A gatefold opens to show a map of their travels in space. The other side reveals the destination—a planet where various ET’s are enjoying a meal and some music at Willy’s new restaurant.

The knee-slapping humor, retro feel of the illustrations and the included recipe for Willy’s special sauce serve up some spicy preschool fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2255-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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