A vibrant snapshot of modern Cuba, full of rich, sensory detail.

ALL THE WAY TO HAVANA

Off to Havana!

A boy is thrilled to visit his new cousin in the city, but another member of the family, the beautiful, blue antique car called Cara Cara, isn’t quite ready yet. (The importance of family and the fact that technology and money are in limited supply come together in the affection the boy holds for Cara Cara, the family heirloom that’s been inventively repaired over many years and will belong to the boy himself someday.) Finally, after the boy and his father tinker under the hood, they are off. Colorful, detailed illustrations and animated, evocative text, peppered with Spanish and full of the excitement of a journey, guide readers through their small Cuban town, over roadways, and past other vintage cars to the destination—a family celebration! Energetic descriptions engage virtually all of the senses and will draw in readers across gender, race—the characters are primarily brown-skinned, and the protagonist’s family is mixed-race, with a black father and pale-skinned mother—and nationality, while politics go unmentioned, as appropriate to the age of the audience. By focusing on the boy’s observations and experiences—clothing hanging on a line, the understanding that you’ll always give your neighbors a ride, the sights and sounds of old cars, the presence of crumbling balconies, the scent of the sea—Engle and Curato provide a child’s view of Cuba that is extremely accessible and as striking as it is unforgettable.

A vibrant snapshot of modern Cuba, full of rich, sensory detail. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-642-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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