Irresistible fun.

READ REVIEW

THE FIELD

Gather around for a boisterous game of futbol in Paul and Alcántara’s excellent picture-book debut.

To begin, the players assemble. With a ball at the ready, one young player calls on others—children, and even adults—to join in. Readers see a diverse cast of mostly dark-skinned characters often gendered in implicit ways. Everyone heads on over to the field, where each player warms up. As the group splits into teams of “friends versus friends,” one brave player shoos away the grazing cows. The game then begins. Basing the narrative on his experiences growing up in Saint Lucia, Paul weaves in italicized Creole phrases and words alongside their English counterparts in such a way that the text bursts with infectious joy. “Isi!” shouts a player, while another player cries “This way!” But suddenly, clouds block the sun and rain falls. “Fini? Game over?” Of course not. The friendly scuffle continues on the muddy field, through every splash, slide, and flop. Colorful and dynamic, Alcántara’s pictures depict an island community in lush shades of green and blue dotted with houses of bright red and orange; in one series of striking illustrations, the players’ vibrant clothing contrasts against muddied backgrounds. Watch the sun appear again when one player scores a “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” It’s a triumphant, earned moment that lingers even as the story reaches its suitably subdued coda.

Irresistible fun. (author’s note, bibliography, glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4312-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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