Tongva cultural memory is alive and well in Alvitre’s skillful storytelling.

WAA'AKA'

THE BIRD WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE SUN

An #ownvoices creation story of the Indigenous people of Southern California, brimming with vivid imagery. This stunning picture book weaves gorgeous prose from Tongva author Alvitre with the evocative watercolors of illustrator Lake to convey an ancient story: first, how sacred plants came into being, and later, how the sun came to be in the heavens. Expressed through the relationship between Waa’aka’, the “sleek and beautiful” white bird, and Tamet, the sun, Tongva values such as collaboration and humility are emphasized through the animal characters—demonstrated handily by Owl, Kingfisher, and Raven and sorely missing within Waa’aka’, who turns out to be quite self-centered. As the narrative unfolds, a wide range of young readers will be enthralled by the tension between Waa’aka’ and her fellow birds, who work together to heave the sun into the cosmos while, secretly, Waa’aka’ attempts to sabotage the project in order to keep the sun for herself. The plan eventually succeeds; when Tamet is flung into the heavens, Waa’aka’ ascends with him, her pearly feathers accidentally burned by Tamet’s fire. With her ulterior motives exposed, Wiyot, the creator, relegates Waa’aka’ to a nocturnal existence, never to see the sun again. Lake’s paintings bloom with life, modulating between symbolic and realistic representation to convey the tale. Wiyot’s russet-colored hands appear throughout, emphasizing his role in creation. Tongva cultural memory is alive and well in Alvitre’s skillful storytelling. (foreword) (Picture book/cosmology. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59714-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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