A creative take on problem-solving that will encourage young readers.

I DREAMED ABOUT A HIPPOPOTAMUS IN A LIPSTICK FACTORY

In Braun’s debut children’s book, an 8-year-old girl embraces her uniqueness after she has an imaginative, insightful dream.

Nicoletta feels anxious when her father accepts a promotion requiring the family to move. She has always had trouble fitting in with her classmates, so starting a new school will be challenging. She also frets about leaving her beloved hammock behind, where she often gets lost in her own thoughts. Nicoletta falls asleep in it and dreams about visiting a lipstick factory called Lipstickland. Her guide is Deloris, a makeup-wearing hippopotamus, and the factory is filled with animals and humans working together in harmony. Nicoletta is shocked at this because it goes “against the natural order of things...like the popular kids working with the nerdy kids.” As Deloris shows Nicoletta around, the workers enlist the girl’s opinions on products. She even helps them pick teams for a soccer tournament and joins in the game. Deloris offers words of wisdom, enabling Nicoletta to reframe the changes in her life: “All you have to do is be open to the possibilities, believe in yourself, and remember you are never alone.” When Nicoletta wakes up, she tells her parents about Lipstickland and explains that she had the dream for a reason: she “needed to work some things out.” Later, at her new school, Nicoletta’s teacher, Mrs. Morris, is kind and caring like Deloris, and Nicoletta makes friends. Braun’s message here is clear: differences should be celebrated, and everyone has their own personality and purpose. The notion of animals coming together is a nice metaphor and Vazan’s (Laughing IS Conceivable, 2015) full-color and monochrome illustrations playfully complement the narrative. Nicoletta is a likable character, and her fears will be relevant for many children. However, at times, the young girls self-talk seems overly precocious; for example, she says, “Fear of judgement was fading, and so were my feelings of loneliness. My imagination, which had been my companion and my friend, was now focused in a new direction.” The main text of the book uses Dyslexie typeface, specifically created to be easier for dyslexics to read.

A creative take on problem-solving that will encourage young readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-9267-9

Page Count: 60

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2017

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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