Essential reading about essential workers that is informative, reassuring, and positive.

KEEPING THE CITY GOING

An award-winning New York City author/illustrator thanks all the risk-taking essential workers.

In the first days, weeks, and months of the Covid-19 pandemic, life on city streets changed from busy congestion to an eerie quiet. Two children, looking concerned, gaze out from their apartment-house window at a strangely empty scene. Almost the only souls about are delivering food on bikes, hauling flats in supermarkets, or driving buses, trains, and taxis. Sanitation workers, letter carriers, and utility workers continue their work on and under the streets. Firefighters, police officers, and hospital workers are busy. Diverse apartment-house dwellers play their appreciative part, though. Every evening at 7:00 they erupt into a cacophony: noisily cheering, banging pots, and blowing musical instruments. “We are here together.” The narration is in the voice of a very observant child who has not lost their sense of humor, voicing some doubts about a nonessential online purchase. A community spirit shines in the use of we. Floca’s signature illustrations offer meticulously detailed renditions of city buildings and a wide assortment of urban vehicles. Everyone is properly masked. The evening cheers have stopped, but the gratitude has not. The story was first developed as a YouTube video, and here the sound effects are missing, but they can be easily and enthusiastically added by young readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64.9% of actual size.)

Essential reading about essential workers that is informative, reassuring, and positive. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9377-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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