A lighthearted picture book for readers hungry for wordplay and lunch.


The opposite of a picky eater, this little boy can’t decide what food-related costume to make for the school play.

Ms. Mellon’s elementary class excitedly cuts, glues, and paints costumes of their favorite foods for the end-of-school Foodstravaganza. Only Frankie can’t decide. He loves all the foods and advocates, unsuccessfully, for combination dishes such as, “nachos with spring rolls and marzipan on top.” But finally Frankie’s job as the costume manager inspires the perfect costume. With a little bit of everything, Frankie steps onstage for the grand finale as Leftovers! Written in the third person with a heavy reliance on dialogue, the story unfolds at a steady pace. Friendly illustrations, created with painterly strokes of thick gouache with linework in ink, augmented by some colored pencil, depict round-faced, rosy-cheeked children with a variety of hair and skin colors; Frankie himself has brown skin and hair while Ms. Mellon presents white. Food is at the center of this plot-driven picture book. The food costumes are especially clever and cover a broad range of cuisines, from sushi to tortellini, steamed dumplings to flan. Importantly, kids are not matched to foods by ethnicity. Food wordplay accompanies each performance, from the “EGGcellent” breakfast dance to the desserts doing the “MACARON-a.” Although a few puns fail to land (“It’s the FALAFEL of the Opera!”), most are delightful.

A lighthearted picture book for readers hungry for wordplay and lunch. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6431-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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While many books celebrate the arts and creativity, this one stands out for recognizing the importance of community support;...


Willems departs from his usual comic fare in this ode to the many people that inspire and contribute to the creation of art in young people.

Each spread in the first half of the book states a causal effect: “Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music— / a man named Franz was inspired to create his own. // Because many years later, people wanted to hear Franz’s beautiful music— / they formed an orchestra.” Musicians who have practiced diligently are invited to participate, workers make sure the concert hall is ready, and ushers open the doors. This chain continues as each person contributes to the culmination of a present-day grand orchestral performance at which a little tawny-brown–skinned girl is present, “because” her uncle has caught a cold and given her his ticket. This little girl is changed by this experience, and in the second half of the book, she grows up to create her own music that then inspires another child, who listens outside. Debut illustrator Ren’s delicate cartoon art depicts both a realistic multicultural community and magical representations of music and inspiration. Both the protagonist and the child who hears her are depicted borne aloft by tendrils of colored music.

While many books celebrate the arts and creativity, this one stands out for recognizing the importance of community support; from the orchestra librarian to the music lovers who purchase tickets, everyone contributes to the culture of creativity. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-01901-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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