The unifying lure of paleta love underscores the joys all people—regardless of differences—have in common.

PALETERO MAN

Money flies out of an excited Latinx boy’s holey pockets as he runs toward his favorite drippy, slurpy treat.

Is it tamales? Korean BBQ tacos? NO! There’s only time for one thing today: an ice cold paleta from Paletero José. “In the hottest month, / on the hottest day, / in the city of Dreamers, / California—LA.” This semibilingual rhyming story races down Eighth Street with the protagonist, who greets food vendors and shopkeepers as he goes, to the teeming park where the Mexican paleta pushcart’s bell rings. Now for the hard part—which flavor to choose? “¿Chocolate, elote, / sandía, o fresa, / arroz con leche, / miel, o cereza?” The boy’s adamant; only piña will hit the spot. A smiling José hands over a pineapple paleta, but wait—where’s the money? It’s lost! Tragedy is averted when the child spies the neighborhood merchants who have followed him across town with his money clutched in their hands. Impressed by their kindness, Paletero José gives out free paletas to everyone. Latin Grammy winner Diaz’s story, based on his bestselling song of the same name (link included on book cover), is a jaunty tour through the vibrant, diverse streets of Los Angeles. Although there is no glossary for fledgling paleta aficionados, Player’s vibrant, attention-grabbing illustrations highlight both the mouth-pleasing treats and the congenial interactions within the multiethnic/multiracial community. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The unifying lure of paleta love underscores the joys all people—regardless of differences—have in common. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-301444-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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