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Stories from Pat Cummings, Minfong Ho, Jean Craighead George, Alma Flor Ada, and other award-winning children’s and young-adult writers tackle a topic that transcends race, ethnicity, and culture: grandmothers. Some are tributes to the unconditional love, courage, and talents received from grandmothers. Some pay homage to their sacrifices, such as Ji-Li Jiang’s “To My Nai Nai” in which the author recounts her grandmothers’ arranged marriage, young widowhood, decision not to remarry, and dedication to her grandchildren during the difficult Chinese Cultural Revolution. Others see their grandmothers in a new light, as real, even sexy, women as in “The Naked Truth,” by Cynthia Letitch Smith, who wonders about the identity of the carved, naked lady in her grandparents’ basement. When authors could choose between grandmothers, some, rather than writing about their doting grandmothers, opted to write the more painful story. In “Granny Was a Gambler,” for example, Beverley Naidoo pieces together the life of her grandmother before she was locked away in a mental institution in South Africa and became a dark family secret, and in “The Best Parts,” Joan Abelove attempts to understand her grandmother’s emotional detachment, especially during the family’s most trying times. This collection, with compiler Christensen’s (Woody Guthrie, 2001, etc.) dry-point illustrations, inspired by the authors’ own photographs, becomes a record of adversity of the women who forged paths when fewer opportunities were available to their gender. For both authors and readers, it is also a process of understanding from where we came and where we are going. While all of the contributions are deeply moving, they do not all work as children’s stories. Most require an adult perspective to be appreciated fully, so don’t limit this to the children’s collection. Share it with women of all ages. (Short stories. 12 )

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-029109-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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