Shining with palpable pride for family and home.

READ REVIEW

ACROSS THE BAY

Carlitos’ yearning for his father takes him on a clandestine solo trip to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, to find him. 

In the town of Cataño, across the titular bay from the capital, Carlitos lives with his mother, his abuela, and their cat, Coco. Carlitos’ “family didn’t look like the others.” The neighborhood children play basketball, learn to ride a bike, or do housework with their fathers while Carlitos goes to the barbershop with only his mother. When Carlitos asks about Papi’s whereabouts, his mother reassures him that his father is across the bay—that “sometimes things don’t work out.” Even though he is happy with his family, a desire for more sets Carlitos on a ferry with Papi’s photo in hand. Vibrant illustrations with an inviting tropical palette draw readers in as Carlitos searches high and low for Papi. A refreshingly varied spectrum of brown shades of skin abounds in colorful city scenes. Wide-angle perspectives effectively emphasize emotional scale: the vastness of San Juan Bay, Carlitos’ sense of his own smallness as he searches for his father in the “maze” of the old capital, and his despair at his journey’s end. Aponte’s decision to leave Carlitos’ quest unresolved is an honest one, and readers will respond to this beautiful depiction of a young boy’s physical and emotional journey within a deeply cultural setting.

Shining with palpable pride for family and home. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8662-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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