LUIGI AND THE BAREFOOT RACES

Luigi isn’t the biggest or strongest boy in his city neighborhood, but he is most certainly the fastest.

Summer on Philadelphia’s Regent Street means enjoying barefoot racing, a favorite activity, possibly unique to the neighborhood. Children race each other endlessly, and Luigi is the acknowledged and unbeaten champion. When Mikey Muldoon, a kid from another neighborhood, loses to Luigi, he is angry in defeat and proposes another contest, this time against his unnamed best friend. The anticipation turns to disbelief and shock when Mikey’s best friend turns out to be everyone’s worst nightmare, Mean Max, who is so scary he doesn’t even appear in the illustrations. A terrified Luigi will not go back on his word, and the race is on. It is very close, with first one then the other in the lead. And the winner is Luigi. He has beaten the fiercest opponent of all, but the race spawns a new rule, one that will have readers wondering whether this really happened, or is it a tall tale? Paley sets a breathless pace that keeps readers guessing. The tale is told by a nostalgic witness, and it captures a strong sense of neighborhood pride. Boyd’s bright illustrations move right along with the action and depict a multicultural community from a variety of panoramic and close-up perspectives. An afterword tells of the author’s Philadelphia childhood and provides information about tall tales.

Cheers for Luigi. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-88448-397-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more