A superb, beautifully moving collaboration of text and illustration.

WISHES

The story of a young refugee’s flight from home is told through a series of wishes made by inanimate objects.

“The night wished it was quieter,” reads the first of 12 wishes that tell the story of a family’s journey across the sea to a better life. A somber palette and perfectly chosen scenes illustrate each object’s wish, giving shape to the story that unfolds. The bag that family members pack with rice packets “wished it was deeper.” The clock, at departure time, “wished it was slower,” as an older man embraces two children with tears in his eyes. The winding, ominous path on which the oldest child and mother walk (she carries both an infant in a sling and her middle child on her back) “wished it was shorter.” And the boat that they board, packed to the edges with passengers, “wished it was bigger.” Each simple statement, accompanied by its heart-rending visual element, takes readers along on this harrowing journey. When the final wish arrives (the only to employ the first person), the one sentence spans four double-page spreads of visual storytelling that evoke the joy and release of so many heightened emotions. Details in every illustration convey an Asian setting, though readers in the know will recognize distinctly Vietnamese particulars. Backmatter explains how the author’s own family escaped from Vietnam in the 1980s.

A superb, beautifully moving collaboration of text and illustration. (author's note, artist's note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-30589-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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