A bit of a bust in English, but if nothing else, Spanish-literate readers will get an evocative take on two fish and their...

THE AMAZING WATERCOLOR FISH / EL ASOMBROSO PEZ ACUARELA

Two fish in separate bowls find a way to communicate across a chasm in a rhyming, bilingual picture book.

A lonely fish depicted in a black-and-white fishbowl that contains only sand, a watercolor palette, and brush wonders what exists outside that tiny world. When another fish, in a matching bowl on the other side of a few books, appears to reach out, the first is inspired to paint what’s in her imagination. Her world—and the illustrations—go rainbow-fantasy, with scene after scene of whimsy rendered in brilliant hues. The two fish, joined only in their dreams, learn that “The world is more than just two fish!” It’s a lovely, mind-expanding idea for young readers, and the shift from black and white to color is a clever conceit. But the change comes 16 pages into a 32-page book, and in the time it takes to get there, the visuals feel flat and undernourished. More problematic is that Tafolla’s Spanish translation, which accompanies each passage of English, tends to outshine its lead-in. Bilingual readers will notice that the rhymes are not direct translations; in order to make them work in each language, different imagery and turns of phrases are used, and the English just doesn’t match up, either in terms of the quality of the writing or the imagery it conveys.

A bit of a bust in English, but if nothing else, Spanish-literate readers will get an evocative take on two fish and their shared vision of a world they’ll never see . (Bilingual picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55885-873-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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