An inspiring account of a woman who followed her dreams.

A GIRL NAMED ROSITA

THE STORY OF RITA MORENO: ACTOR, SINGER, DANCER, TRAILBLAZER!

The story of Rosita Dolores Alverio—best known today as Rita Moreno—a girl from Puerto Rico who loved to sing and dance.

At a young age, Rosita leaves her island home with her mother to settle in New York City. Her new school is a “fortress of brick” where she is teased for “her accent, darker skin, and curly hair.” In order to speak back to the bullies, Rosita practices until her inglés is perfect; this tenacity will continue throughout her life. She starts dancing lessons at 6, and it is soon clear that “onstage, she is home.” As her dancing and acting careers progress, gender and ethnic stereotypes pen her in. She must put on a fake accent to play stereotypically exotic parts. Finally, the role of a strong Puerto Rican woman comes, and it is hers: Anita in West Side Story. For this she wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the first Latinx performer to ever win an Oscar. It is here that the story ends, though the backmatter includes an author’s note and timeline that show that Rosita—now Rita—continues a life of professional successes and lifelong political activism. Espinosa’s illustrations are as vibrant as the character he portrays. Rosita and her mother have beige skin and black hair, and the New Yorkers are multiethnic, but the people—mostly men—that surround her in Hollywood are White.

An inspiring account of a woman who followed her dreams. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287770-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder.

GOODNIGHT, ASTRONAUT

From childhood, an astronaut dreamed of adventurous exploration.

Famed NASA astronaut Kelly played imaginative games with his twin brother, Mark (also an astronaut), from the time they were kids, presaging both men’s future space careers by wearing cardboard-box helmets. Their mother supported their high-flying dreams at bedtime. Ever entranced by the sky, the brothers imagined aboveground adventures in the backyard treehouse and on a family cruise, where they fantasized about being weightless as the boat was tossed by the waves. In adulthood, Kelly undertook hardier journeys, and his dreams continued to spark his longings for space navigation: He steered Navy vessels and piloted jets; camped out in icy climates and explored the seas; and climbed Mount Everest. Kelly attained his astronaut goal by joining the crew of the space shuttle Discovery, then earned renown for his yearlong stint on the International Space Station. Though Kelly acknowledges home is best, he encourages readers to dream about having adventures; a charming concluding illustration features a brown-skinned girl dreaming of myriad possibilities. The engaging, gently poetic text describes the author’s ambitious, lifelong skyward trajectory and his stops along the way to space, helping youngsters understand what goes into astronaut training. Colorful, appealing illustrations capture Kelly’s fascinating odyssey, beginning in childhood, and the starry reaches of space. Scott and Mark Kelly present White; some background characters are people of color. The backmatter includes two pages of color photos. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 49.9% of actual size.)

A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6428-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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