A sweet demonstration of how friendship can transcend language barriers.

WE LAUGH ALIKE / JUNTOS NOS REÍMOS

A STORY THAT'S PART SPANISH, PART ENGLISH, AND A WHOLE LOT OF FUN

Two groups of friends, one that speaks English, the other speaking Spanish, encounter each other at the park and learn to communicate through the language of play.

The two languages are reflected in a responsive dual text, though not an exact translation, that allows readers to engage with each group’s thinking and understanding. “We listen to the other kids, even though we don’t understand a word of Spanish. / Escuchamos a los tres niños, aunque no sabemos inglés.” The literal translations are: “Escuchamos a los otros niños, a pesar de no entender una palabra de español. / We listen to the three children, even though we don’t know English.” The two groups—both racially diverse—cautiously observe each other and then each begins to learn the other’s games until they are counting, jumping rope, dancing, singing, and playing together. The cheery art using scanned textures and bold colors highlights the activity, setting it in a city park in the shadow of numerous skyscrapers. The simple, dual text works well to establish the concept that these children have much in common. But the wording of the English title, We Laugh Alike, is awkward in comparison to the Spanish version, which translates as Together We Laugh and jibes better with the spirit of the story. Nevertheless, the children are alike in their eagerness to befriend one another and laugh together.

A sweet demonstration of how friendship can transcend language barriers. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-096-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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