ERANDI'S BRAIDS

DePaola’s signature rounded characters and folk-influenced palette invigorate this slim Mexican folktale. The next day will be Erandi’s birthday, and though she would love a new dress for the upcoming village fiesta, she isn’t expecting much. But Erandi’s hardworking Mamí is determined to buy her something special. “We will pay the best prices for your hair. Come to Miguel’s Barber Shop tomorrow,” a loudspeaker on the street beckons, giving Mamí an idea of what she must do to ensure her daughter a happy day. At first, Erandi is frightened—whose hair will Mamí sell? Mamí tries to sell her own hair, but the barber says it is not long enough; this selfless act gives Erandi the courage to sell her own hair, and in the end, she earns a dress and a doll. Although the storyline—equating the cutting of hair with sacrifice, as it was for O. Henry’s young couple and Alcott’s Jo—is not entirely new, dePaola’s work transports readers to the innocence and austerity of a timeless Mexican village. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23212-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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THIS SCHOOL YEAR WILL BE THE BEST!

On the first day of school, this primary-grade teacher encourages her students to share their hopes for the coming year. In one- or two-page spreads, the wishes unfold: for the best seat on the bus, a chocolate fountain at lunch, to kick the ball into the right goal, not to be a vegetable in the school play. The quotidian-but-nevertheless-marvelous (“at least one snow day”) mixes with the slightly ridiculous (“We’ll have Skateboard Day”) to provide a kid-level survey of anticipated fun. Andriani’s line-and-watercolor cartoons likewise mix the fanciful (one little boy brings his giant purple boa constrictor for show-and-tell) and the realistic (two girls jump double Dutch as one of them imagines making friends in her new school). A catalog more than a story, this agreeable book could act as a fruitful springboard for class brainstorming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-42275-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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