Good both for classroom explorations of metaphors and for inspiring imaginative play.

HALFWAY WILD

As they move through their day, a busy family changes skin, fur, and feathers.

Buzzing and tumbling out of bed, they are a family of bumblebees, the boy in the bottom bunk sporting delicate wings, while his sister in the top is almost wholly bee—pajama top and bottom are visible, but just barely, beneath a fuzzy bee body, and she has antennae and wings. By the turn of the page, the siblings have morphed into moose, the brother’s antlers helping his sister in her climb to reach the sugary cereal. Some of Freudig’s metaphors work better than others, and similarly, some of Barry’s detailed, realistic illustrations include more animal parts, other less: “When our socks sag and our pants are wrinkled, we’re a family of TURTLES,” shows the two sleepy, sluggish children getting dressed, the girl upside down in her turtle shell, but when they eat spicy food and cool the fire with water, they (inexplicably) sport the heads of foxes. Other transformations include puffins, squirrels, ducks, ants, sea gulls, seals, field mice, fireflies, skunks, raccoons, and bears. The mother, father, and grandmother sometimes get into the act, as well, the grandmother delighted to join in the puddle-stomping of her duck grandchildren, all three with white wings and orange webbed feet. Dad’s white with curly red hair, while mom looks East Asian.

Good both for classroom explorations of metaphors and for inspiring imaginative play. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-934031-48-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A delectable bilingual experience.

¡VAMOS! LET'S GO EAT

From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo is tasked with nourishing nine famished luchadores.

Following ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market (2019), author/illustrator Raúl the Third and colorist Bay create a second installment in their bilingual series, ¡Vamos!, here following Little Lobo’s journey as he provides sustenance to hungry lucha libre stars. The cheerfully energetic anthropomorphic wolf reprises his role as a bike courier when he receives a message from El Toro and makes his way to el Coliseo, winding and weaving through busy streets. A mouthwatering experience follows as Little Lobo—accompanied by dog Bernabé and rooster pal Kooky Dooky—picks up tacos, diced fruit, freshly made tortillas, flan, and buñuelos from a gathering of food trucks. As in his other work, Raúl the Third imbues his pages with real-world and pop-culture references. An homage to Picasso’s Guernica, recognizable Ciudad Juárez–El Paso landmarks, a Chavo del Ocho inside a barrel, and even a Chapulín Colorado marionette all make the cut. Readers ignorant of these specifics will not feel left out: The busy pages filled with interesting characters and intriguing bilingual signage make readers wish they could jump into the pages and experience the bustling town. Bay’s comic book–style coloring and creative textures provide a deep cultural exposure to the lavish array of Mexican food throughout the spreads. After enjoying the story, readers will keep going back to savor all the minuscule details.

A delectable bilingual experience. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-55704-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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