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A loving embrace of faith and family and a wonderful window into Nigerian culture.

Eight-year-old Olu visits her mother’s family in Ijebu, Nigeria, as they observe Eid al-Adha.

Olu travels from Lagos with her mother, her uncle, and her siblings for the Muslim holiday. Although her family is Catholic, like many Nigerians, her extended family includes members of other faiths, who celebrate their respective traditions together. Olu is excited because this year she will get to help her grandmother Iya Akin cook the feast. The trip is filled with the sights and sounds of Nigeria: “Smells of crunchy dundun and sweet puff puff frying fill the air.” “Impatient drivers honk and honk. / Street hawkers walk and hawk.” “Roads marked with black-and-white lane dividers / Make the highway look like racing zebras.” When Olu arrives, her grandfather chants a Yoruba greeting: “Olubunmi! My gift from God! / Daughter of Akinpelumi! / Descendant of Asemperi! / Born of Ondo soil! / My American child!” And so begins the visit, full of traditional foods and celebrations, which are described in vivid detail. Vibrant, rich illustrations make use of flat colors and complement the sensorial text, bringing to life the energy of Nigeria. In their author’s and illustrator’s notes, Emenanjo and Ejaita share their personal inspirations and connections to the story.

A loving embrace of faith and family and a wonderful window into Nigerian culture. (information on Nigeria, map, glossary, recipe for puff puff, photos) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2024

ISBN: 9781646868438

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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