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

FRANKIE'S FAVORITE FOOD

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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A bright, bold picture-book biography that challenges conceptions of masculinity and strength.

STRONG

The first openly gay strongman overhauls stereotypes.

Whether opening “the TIGHTEST pickle jars” or carrying many packed grocery bags into the house all at once, Rob Kearney is a strong kid. As he grows up, he finds his calling in strength sports. A teacher introduces 17-year-old Rob to the Strongman competition, kindling his dream of becoming a weightlifting champion. First, he trains to lift 150 pounds, then 200, then 300, then 400—the equivalent of “more than 800 STUFFED RAINBOW UNICORNS.” Despite all of his training, Rob flounders at his first big competition since he doesn’t feel quite right in his “boring” and “bleak” weightlifting gear. That changes when Rob falls in love with Joey, who pushes Rob to wear whatever “bright, bold colors” he wants. But can Rob win the title of “strongest person in North America?” Real-life strongman Kearney and LGBTQ+ parenting expert Rosswood team up to create this positive, affirming picture-book memoir. Although one scene depicts an instance of dress code discrimination, the story maintains a sunny tone. Certain words are bolded throughout the text for emphasis, particularly those related to Rob’s impressive feats. Rob and Joey are both White and have mohawks, but Chanani’s colorful digital illustrations depict ethnically diverse spectators. Backmatter delves more deeply into strongman events and—staying within the gender binary—mentions the existence of “a separate strongwoman division.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A bright, bold picture-book biography that challenges conceptions of masculinity and strength. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-29290-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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

BECAUSE

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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