GOLDFISH AND CHRYSANTHEMUMS

Nancy and Greg’s Ni Ni (Grandmother) gets a letter from her brother, who still lives in China. The city of Suzhou is tearing down their father’s house and garden to make way for apartment buildings. Ni Ni is understandably distraught, and Nancy wants to cheer her up. After a trip to the summer fair to search for ideas, Nancy decides to build a miniature goldfish pond in the backyard, complete with the yellow flowers Ni Ni remembers from her father’s garden. With help from a neighbor and brother Greg, Nancy completes her surprise. They take pictures to send to China, and Ni Ni finds a special way to say thank you. Cheng’s (Anna the Bookbinder, p. 302, etc.) story of intergenerational connection is a sweet one. Ni Ni speaks just haltingly enough to let readers know English is not her first language, and Nancy only completes her small fishpond with an adult’s help. First time illustrator Chang’s art is less spot-on. Ni Ni often appears out of proportion. The goldfish on the cover do not match those in the story, and the flowers never resemble the chrysanthemums of the title. The cover has an almost golden glow to it that is absent in the grayish interior illustrations. The story might have been better served with pictures rendered in a lighter medium than oils, but this is still a good choice for older storytime audiences or collections in need of culturally different stories. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58430-057-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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