A quietly radical, eminently delightful book.

READ REVIEW

BILAL COOKS DAAL

Novelist Saeed makes her picture-book debut with this delicious tale about a boy and his beloved daal.

When Bilal’s father begins to make the South Asian legume stew, Bilal and his friends Morgan and Elias are eager to help, but Abu tells them, “This dish takes patience.…This dish takes time.” The children choose to make chana daal (with split chickpeas) and line up the spices: turmeric, chili, cumin. But when Morgan and Elias wonder aloud why the daal “looks” and “smells” funny, Bilal becomes concerned that his friends won’t like his favorite food at all. The daal simmers all day—as Bilal, Morgan, and Elias play hopscotch, swim, and hike and other friends join them—and once the sun begins to set, Bilal’s father calls them all home. They break naan around the table and share the steamy, soupy, garlicky, salty, sweet, creamy daal. “Bilal, you were right—daal tastes great!” they say. The tale centers on a situation familiar to many children of immigrants—the othering of the foods of their homes—and validates young readers’ cultural experiences. Saeed’s inclusion of a South Asian father engaged in domestic work is radical and welcome, and Syed’s inviting, bold, cartoonlike illustrations depict brown-skinned Bilal surrounded by children of a variety of skin tones (Morgan presents white and Elias presents black).

A quietly radical, eminently delightful book. (author’s note, recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1810-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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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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