This gentle family story lets readers know that shyness is nothing to worry about.

FELÍZ NEW YEAR, AVA GABRIELA!

It’s New Year’s Eve at Abuelita’s finca, and Ava struggles to overcome her shyness.

Ava is excited to cook and play with her cousins and to join in family fun on the farm during her visit. Every time she wants to speak up, though, she finds that it’s much harder than she thinks it should be. Ava’s mamá reassures her that “There’s nothing wrong with being shy. When you’re ready, your voice will come out and play,” which gives Ava the confidence she needs to slowly come out of her shell. Colombian New Year’s traditions, such as eating 12 grapes at midnight for 12 months of good luck, are woven into the story for an added holiday experience. Delicious Colombian foods are depicted in joyful illustrations that add even more cultural details. The story’s seamless incorporation of Spanish idioms and phrases lets Spanish-speaking readers hear themselves on the pages and provides support for those interested in learning more. Shyness isn’t portrayed as a negative trait, and Ava is given the space by her family members to find her voice on her own terms. Ava and her family are depicted with shades of brown skin and hair.

This gentle family story lets readers know that shyness is nothing to worry about. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0450-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.

DADDIES ARE AWESOME

Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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