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A much-needed reminder to slow down and live in the moment.

A young South Asian boy learns the joy of taking his time.

Aarav loves his grandfather, whom he calls Thatha, even though the two approach life at two different tempos: While Thatha “shuffled,” “sauntered,” and “strolled,” Aarav “ran,” “rushed,” and “raced.” Thatha urges Aarav to slow down, but Aarav constantly asks Thatha to speed up—especially at 5 o’clock, when Aarav helps Thatha makes his daily masala chai. Thatha insists that this spicy tea needs to be made at the right pace, no matter how much Aarav wishes it could be ready right away. One day, Thatha falls off a kitchen stool and injures his leg, preventing him from standing. Without Thatha to make the chai, Aarav decides to step in (with the help of an adult or two). At first, he rushes the process, doing it at the speed he’s always wanted to try. Unfortunately, every attempt goes wrong, and it’s only when Aarav tries his grandfather’s ponderous pace that the chai finally tastes just right—and that Aarav appreciates that while it’s fun to be fast, some things are meant to be slow. Although this intergenerational story centers on a South Asian practice—afternoon chai—its sweetly conveyed message of mindfulness will resonate with impatient little ones everywhere. The muted, earth-toned illustrations, depicting an adorably exuberant tot and a loving family, complement the text effectively. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A much-needed reminder to slow down and live in the moment. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781536219401

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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