Familiar colors and foods give this joyous book a distinctively Cuban feel.

MY BIG FAMILY

Young Alex lives with his mother and father. Although it is just three of them, he knows he has a very big family back in Cuba—and they quickly demonstrate just how many people his little house can hold.

At the book’s beginning, Alex and his family get some wonderful news. Abuela is leaving Cuba and coming to live with them! After all, as Papa says, “Where three can fit, four can fit.” Alex is excited to be sharing his room with Abuela and spending time together. Soon, aunts, uncles, and cousins come as well, and their house is fit to bursting, until Alex feels that “no one else can fit in this house!” Slowly, Alex’s extended family members move out as they become settled in the United States, but there is still one last surprise for him at the end. Archer’s beautiful collage illustrations with bright colors and patterns capture the ebullience of this loving extended Cuban family. Its boisterous din is made visible with jagged diagonals everywhere, the double-page spread when Alex learns everybody will be leaving standing as dramatic counterpoint. While this brown-skinned family is Cuban, this is a story that will resonate with many children of immigrants and will give a glimpse into the positive side of bringing in a large extended family for those who aren’t.

Familiar colors and foods give this joyous book a distinctively Cuban feel. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6790-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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