The language is fun, the Spanish just rolls off the tongue, and the illustrations offer just enough whimsy.

MAYA PAPAYA AND HER AMIGOS PLAY DRESS-UP

Follow Maya Papaya and her peluches as they dance and play through the seasons.

“¡Ay, Guacamole!” This is a bright little book, full of cheery illustrations and well-metered rhymes that create a delightful story. Maya and her amigos—her stuffed toys, her dog, and her cats—do everything together. From swimming to sledding to jumping in mud puddles, they do it all in style (thanks to their gafas del sol, tacones, and other fun clothes). Small children will easily relate to Maya and her need to adventure with her furry friends and will certainly see themselves in the playful games they enjoy together. Spanish words are used throughout (printed in italics), and most children and adults will be able to figure out their meanings using context clues even if they do not know Spanish. However, a glossary in the back defines anything readers may be unsure of, with helpful phonetic spellings of all words. As the illustrated narrative begins with dressing and ends with Maya cuddled up in bed, this is not only a great book for teaching the seasons as well as beginning Spanish vocabulary, but a sweet bedtime book to read aloud. Maya has dark hair, pale skin, and large, dark eyes that seem to be all pupil.

The language is fun, the Spanish just rolls off the tongue, and the illustrations offer just enough whimsy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-803-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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