The golden rule gets the spotlight in this tale of selflessness. To provide for their large family, Miguel and his father travel from town to town to sell delicious pastries. Each town welcomes the duo’s arrival through song and dance, though the poor cannot afford the treats. Feeling pity for their plight, Papa graciously donates his baked goods to the struggling villagers. Concern for their family’s welfare causes Miguel and his mother to question this generosity, but his gift is returned threefold when the recipients share their skills with Papa and his growing brood. By focusing on prayer's inspirational power rather than specific doctrine, the nondenominational approach appeals broadly. The religious message cannot escape an earnest wholesomeness, though it refrains from didacticism. Biblical quotations support the straightforward narration. Repetitive dialogue builds the familiar arc to its uplifting conclusion, though the nondescript Latin setting cannot root it. Soft colors suit the quiet message; rounded shapes reveal a sweet vulnerability within each light spread. Overall, Christian charity receives a gentle endorsement. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-310-71602-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Inartful but sincere


Santa puts the Christ back in Christmas.

“It was on Christmas Eve / In a small Midwestern town” when two kids walking through the snow and imagining all the gifts they’ll receive see “the ol’ man himself / Mr. Kris Kringle / That great jolly old elf” slipping into a church. Sneaking in after him, they watch as he walks straight up to the manger scene at the altar and begins to pray. He asks Jesus for “the knowledge that I need / To help all of these children / To not give in to greed / To recognize that Christmas / Is not all about me.” Indeed, Santa goes on to actually voice the bromide that Jesus is “the true reason / for the season” and that he, “ol’ Santa,” is simply Jesus’ “servant.” The children exchange a meaningful look as Santa concludes, leaving the church “with a glow on his face.” They then approach the manger to pray: “Dear Jesus—thank you!” Moss illustrates Roberts’ poem with inky, crosshatched lines and spare applications of color. Santa’s red suit provides a vivid focus for the otherwise muted pages. He and the two children are white. While Roberts’ poetry leaves rather a lot to be desired, his articulation of a tension felt in many a household makes this book stand out, effectively bridging the gap between wholly secular and wholly religious offerings.

Inartful but sincere . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3673-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...


From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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