MOM PIE

Jonell’s (It’s My Birthday, Too!, 1999, etc.) latest adventure involving siblings Robbie and Christopher comically captures that classic conundrum: when moms are at their busiest, their children are at their neediest. As the imminent arrival of company looms, Mommy is in a frenzy of activity. Distraught after their offerings of assistance are summarily declined, Robbie laments to his brother that not even the tantalizing prospect of three different types of pie is worth the loss of their mom’s attention. Thus, Christopher devises a plan to create a “Mom Pie” a hodgepodge of items conveying the essence of mom. A helping of something soft, a pinch of something snuggly, a stray earring stirred in, and the addition of Mom’s perfume completes the recipe. When the pair proudly places their creation on the table, their mom is exasperated and baffled until the boys explain, “ ‘Mom pie is not good to eat . . . It is good to touch and smell.’ ‘And to snuggle with,’ said Robbie, ‘when you are too busy.’ ” Jonell’s sympathetic tale is on the mark; parents will appreciate the wry humor of the mother’s harried responses while the child-like prose aptly expresses a little one’s perspective. Mathers’s colorful, cartoon-like drawings are the perfect accompaniment. Framed vignettes highlight the action and the humor—hilarious glimpses of Mom frantically scurrying about, as reflected in a mirror or racing down the hall, are cleverly inserted into the illustrations. Poignant, but funny, this one is sure to resonate with readers, both adult and child. A touching and astute tale about keeping the important things in perspective for frazzled moms and their bewildered offspring. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23422-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

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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