Viable the premise may be, but here it’s more a rough draft than a finished story.

READ REVIEW

MY RED VELVET CAPE

The prospect of getting a superhero’s cape for his birthday rocks Mateo’s world.

An ineptly handled misunderstanding sends this wild rumpus spiraling into the ground. When Grandma tells him on the phone that she’s made him “a red velvet—” Mateo doesn’t need to hear the rest: off he sails in his superhero jammies to envision himself walking his dog, Alonzo, using his new cape in school at recess and to fly to the restroom, and inviting all his friends to a super costume party. Come the party, his big sister’s announcement before all of his friends that Grandma isn’t bringing him a cape but a “red velvet CAKE!” brings Mateo crashing down in flames. But when he sadly opens Grandma’s gift box what should be inside? Yes, a big, bright, splendid cape! In the illustrations, Sullivan surrounds his broadly grinning black-haired, pale-skinned lad with racially diverse peers and captures the overall mood of giddy excitement with exuberant pen and brushwork. He doesn’t, however, give readers any clue to how the “cape/cake” confusion came about. Plainly, Mateo’s sister has some explaining to do, but she abruptly vanishes from the pictures, and neither Mateo nor his parents show any interest in clearing it up. Nor will the highly abbreviated instructions for making a personal cape at the end distract puzzled readers from wondering what just happened.

Viable the premise may be, but here it’s more a rough draft than a finished story. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58536-393-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Though there’s not much of a storyline, the book is a good initial introduction to a lesser-known First Nations people.

P'ÉSK'A AND THE FIRST SALMON CEREMONY

A glimpse of life along British Columbia’s Harrison River, a millennium ago.

When P'ésk'a, a child of the Sta'ailes (also known as Chehalis) people, wakes to discover that a special tray needed for the First Salmon Ceremony has been left behind, he snatches it up and hurries riverward to deliver it to the Siyá:m (chief). Respectfully noting that this is an “interpretation of a time and place” 1,000 years ago, Ritchie threads his rudimentary plotline through village scenes of lightly clad people busily at work: fishing, building, hollowing out a cedar log for a canoe, making drums, weaving baskets, preparing the feast, and finally gathering on the bank to give thanks for the sth'óqwi (salmon) that is “the greatest gift.” The illustrations are created with abbreviated brush strokes and short, loosely drawn pen lines and have the warm, detailed look of Bob Graham’s work. First Salmon ceremonies are common throughout the Pacific Northwest, and aside from some distinctively patterned hats and a few other details, there is not much to distinguish the figures or their surroundings from any of the region’s small traditional settlements. Still, an afterword furnishes more about this ancient band’s way of life, and a short glossary provides an opportunity to sample its language.

Though there’s not much of a storyline, the book is a good initial introduction to a lesser-known First Nations people. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55498-718-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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