Fun, in an odd sort of way.

I KNOW AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A DREIDEL

The old folk song is given a Hanukkah spin in a parody that blends Jewish tradition with art appreciation.

The kerchiefed grandma swallows a tiny dreidel placed atop her cream-cheesed bagel by the family cat, setting off the familiar chain of events. She swallows the oil, the latkes, 10 barrels of applesauce, a 20-ton brisket, a “mine full of gelt, before it could melt,” the menorah and candles until she is finally full. A large burp makes her feel better. The silliness, cadence and rhythm of the verse all work with the original tune; it can be a tongue twister at times but will keep kids engaged. “I know an old lady who swallowed a menorah— / A mountainous menorah, while we danced the hora.” Acrylic-based drawings using charcoal, pen and pencil place this bubbe in various scenes taken from classical paintings, providing an educational twist. She appears in comical versions of Munch’s The Scream and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. The applesauce in a red-and-white can spoofs Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans, and the menorah is set against the background of van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Adults will see the humor but might wonder about the artist’s point in his note stating that “a new look at famous works of art seemed like the perfect way to help people of all backgrounds enjoy this fresh take on an ancient holiday.”

Fun, in an odd sort of way. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-439-91530-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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This multigenerational snuggle will encourage the sharing of old memories and the creation of new ones.

GRANDMA'S GIRL

Hill and Bobbiesi send a humungous hug from grandmothers to their granddaughters everywhere.

Delicate cartoon art adds details to the rhyming text showing multigenerational commonalities. “You and I are alike in such wonderful ways. / You will see more and more as you grow” (as grandmother and granddaughter enjoy the backyard together); “I wobbled uncertainly just as you did / whenever I tried something new” (as a toddler takes first steps); “And if a bad dream woke me up in the night, / I snuggled up with my lovey too” (grandmother kisses granddaughter, who clutches a plush narwhal). Grandmother-granddaughter pairs share everyday joys like eating ice cream, dancing “in the rain,” and making “up silly games.” Although some activities skew stereotypically feminine (baking, yoga), a grandmother helps with a quintessential volcano experiment (this pair presents black, adding valuable STEM representation), another cheers on a young wheelchair athlete (both present Asian), and a third, wearing a hijab, accompanies her brown-skinned granddaughter on a peace march, as it is “important to speak out for what you believe.” The message of unconditional love is clear throughout: “When you need me, I’ll be there to listen and care. / There is nothing that keeps us apart.” The finished book will include “stationery…for a special letter from Grandma to you!”

This multigenerational snuggle will encourage the sharing of old memories and the creation of new ones. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0623-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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