Timely, with relevance to today’s difficult Ukrainian struggle as history is repeated.

A child learns of her Ukrainian grandmother’s terrifying escape as a child.

Baba kneads dough for bread and tells her granddaughter, Karina, light-skinned and brown-haired, the story of a little girl living in a Ukrainian village. The soldiers of the Soviet army, portrayed as monsters, invade, first taking the villagers’ grain (a note at the beginning describes Holodomor, a famine caused by the Soviet Communist Party that resulted in 14.5 million deaths), then imprisoning families, including the little girl’s, in a camp in Siberia, where children are separated from their parents. One day the children discover matryoshka dolls beneath their mattresses; the fifth dolls contain messages of a rescue plan. At dawn, while their captors are at a campwide meeting, the children are ushered away through the forest, then onto a waiting train. Baba reveals that she was the little girl—and is now “a happy old lady, kneading bread dough and telling a true story to her granddaughter.” Beautiful, detailed illustrations bring to life an old-world village with a thatched roof cottage. As the invasion approaches, dark, foreboding scenes dominate with frightening depictions of soldiers with sharp-angled faces in silhouette, holding spearlike rifles. The matryoshka dolls are colorfully limned, a bright source in the darkness. This is an ugly historical moment of destruction told expeditiously, concluding with a decisive and constructive outcome for an earlier generation of Ukrainian children. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Timely, with relevance to today’s difficult Ukrainian struggle as history is repeated. (Historical picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7581-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022



From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 2

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D.

Breakout kid barber J.D. embraces a summer of opportunity.

Readers met J.D. Jones just as he took his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, by storm, winning himself community acclaim and a chair at the revered Hart and Sons barbershop in series opener J.D. and the Great Barber Battle(2021). What’s next for the haircut prodigy? School’s just getting out, and there’s so much life happening outside—if only one can escape home learning with the grandparents. J.D.’s sister, Vanessa, brings along multitalented mutual friend Jessyka to share an ambitious challenge: “Let’s start a YouTube channel!” Can they get millions of views and wow the whole world? They are already amazing at haircuts and hairstyles—all they need is to learn how to make a great YouTube video. The story models strategies for scripting short videos reflecting the templates of viral YouTube hair tutorials, inviting readers to not only see the journey of the characters, but maybe also practice these skills at home. This book is bound to educate all about some of the most storied and cherished traditions within the Black community. Bringing in Vanessa is a great touch to extend the series across gender, and hopefully she’ll get a chance to lead her own adventures. This book blends skill-building, entrepreneurship, and strong family values to give young Black children visions of what’s possible when they follow their passions and embrace their community.

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11155-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021



From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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