If the story is not dazzlingly original, it's at least an entry point to learn about one of the ways animals are...

MIMI AND SHU IN I'LL RACE YOU!

In the story of a "Tortoise and the Hare"–like race by way of the Chinese zodiac, a friendship between a cunning mouse and a snack-obsessed kitten is tested.

Shu the mouse and Mimi the kitten are invited by Jade Emperor to a palace race promising "Cupcakes! PRIZES! Did I mention cupcakes?!" While Shu, a crafty, industrious planner, strategizes, Mimi daydreams of sweets. Soon, they're outwitting and outracing Dragon, Rabbit, Ox, and other fierce competitors. It only takes a moment of bad judgment, however, for Mimi to lose sight of her friendship with Shu and to not only lose the race, but her spot on the zodiac. Why do you think there's no Year of the Cat? Apart from its pourquoi-tale aspect, the book presents an opportunity for young readers to learn about the rewards of hard work as well as the merits of forgiveness as thoughtful Shu saves the last cupcake for his wayward kitten friend. Illustrations throughout are action-packed, with big, bright, expressive faces of animals in motion. The closing endpapers present all 12 Chinese zodiac animals, years (not the lunar ones, though), and personality traits ("Horse: You are outgoing and funny! Make sure to finish what you start! 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026").

If the story is not dazzlingly original, it's at least an entry point to learn about one of the ways animals are anthropomorphized in the histories of different cultures. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2330-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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