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An inclusive, heartening tale of faith, friendship, and teamwork.

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Three girls from different religious backgrounds become friends in Metler, Rahman, and Stoller’s picture book.

Molly, Savera, and Hannah are nervous before their first day of school, so they receive special necklaces: Christian Molly’s mom gives her a cross “for comfort and peace”; Muslim Savera wears a necklace with her grandma’s “prayer to protect” her; and Jewish Hannah’s dad gives her a Star of David to “inspire [her] and offer shalom.” In the classroom, the girls happily notice one another’s necklaces. During a class planting project, the three team up to help one another when their plants don’t grow as expected. Over winter, the trio’s friendship grows; illustrations show the girls partaking in various holiday traditions, such as playing dreidel at Hannah’s during Hanukkah. In the spring, they plant saplings in the park close to one another: “Just like us!” The three authors, who have the same religious backgrounds as the characters, offer a charming tale that underscores how sharing traditions and learning from one another ultimately helps people grow and strengthens their connections. The jaunty language (“necklaces bounced, bobbed, and bumped”) is sure to appeal to young readers. Talbot’s cheerful, cartoonish illustrations emphasize details of the characters’ faiths, such as Shabbat candlesticks at Hannah’s, a prayer rug at Savera’s, and a cross on Molly’s wall.

An inclusive, heartening tale of faith, friendship, and teamwork.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-950169-60-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Spork

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

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From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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One of the watershed moments in African-American history—the defeat of James Braddock at the hands of Joe Louis—is here given an earnest picture-book treatment. Despite his lack of athletic ability, Sammy wants desperately to be a great boxer, like his hero, getting boxing lessons from his friend Ernie in exchange for help with schoolwork. However hard he tries, though, Sammy just can’t box, and his father comforts him, reminding him that he doesn’t need to box: Joe Louis has shown him that he “can be the champion at anything [he] want[s].” The high point of this offering is the big fight itself, everyone crowded around the radio in Mister Jake’s general store, the imagined fight scenes played out in soft-edged sepia frames. The main story, however, is so bent on providing Sammy and the reader with object lessons that all subtlety is lost, as Mister Jake, Sammy’s father, and even Ernie hammer home the message. Both text and oil-on-canvas-paper illustrations go for the obvious angle, making the effort as a whole worthy, but just a little too heavy-handed. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-58430-161-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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