For caregivers of extremely extroverted kids, Carmen’s ambitions will feel very familiar; for kid readers, Carmen and...

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STARRING CARMEN!

An attention-seeking young star of imaginative stage shows—all produced at home for her Latinx family members—learns that sharing the spotlight can be equally fulfilling.

Carmen is a whirlwind of many talents, a “one-girl sensación” who acts, sings, dances, and even costume-designs musicals every night for her supportive but slightly exhausted parents and star-struck little brother. When her parents call for an intermission on all the show-business activity, Carmen sulks. But when she sees her brother, Eduardo, previously cast in nonspeaking roles (“You can be a rock”), has his own imaginative ideas, Carmen decides that her productions can be even better as an ensemble. Smartly, the narrative depicts all Carmen’s activities as creative work; it’s not just about the performance, but also building and rehearsing. And her parents (dark-skinned mom and light-skinned dad) accommodate her dreams while also realistically hoping to enforce bedtime and make sure Eduardo doesn’t get left in the shadows. The art seems to leap off the page, turning Carmen’s stagecraft into magic, whether it’s colorful pirate seascapes or robot rock operas. The mix of detail between home decoration and wildly over-the-top costumes and props is well-balanced and rich.

For caregivers of extremely extroverted kids, Carmen’s ambitions will feel very familiar; for kid readers, Carmen and Eduardo’s very fun activities might inspire some musical productions at home. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2321-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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Lê’s compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat’s illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to...

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

DRAWN TOGETHER

The power of art takes center stage in this cleverly titled story of a Thai-speaking grandfather connecting to his assimilated American grandson.

The title page introduces readers to a sullen-faced Asian boy as he walks up to a door and rings the bell. After a traditional bow of greeting, the grandfather, dressed like Mr. Rogers in a white shirt and red sweater, wordlessly welcomes the grandson inside. In paneled artwork, the two unsuccessfully attempt conversation over dinner, with the grandfather speaking in Thai script and the boy speaking in English. Sitting in the uncomfortable silence that cultural divides create, the awkward boy finally walks away to doodle on paper. He draws a wizard with a wand and a conical red hat. Grandpa, recognizing this creative outlet, fetches a sketchbook and, surprisingly, draws his version of a wizard: a tightly detailed warrior clothed in traditional Thai ceremonial dress. The young boy is amazed, marveling that “we see each other for the first time.” The two begin a battle of imagination, wands and paintbrushes thrashing like swords. One draws in energetic colorful cartoons, the other with fierce black-and-white, precisely brushed drawings. Santat elevates their newfound shared passion into energetic, layered, and complex designs, separate and entwined at the same time. They clash with the dragon that divides them and build a new world together “that even words can’t describe.”

Lê’s compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat’s illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to connect and the joy of sharing the creative process. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-6760-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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