A stunning picture book that celebrates life, family relations, and determination to preserve traditions and heritage.

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THE SONG WITHIN MY HEART

A heartfelt intergenerational story about knowing and preserving heritage and love between elders and young ones.

Basing his bilingual (English and Cree) story on Sapp’s childhood growing up in Saskatchewan, Métis author Bouchard writes lyrically of a young Cree boy preparing for his first powwow. His Nokum (grandmother) guides him through the day and explains the stories told by the beating drums, the singers, and the dancers and describes the power in them. From exciting and happy stories about their people and their homeland to stories about sorrow, birth, and life hereafter, Nokum teaches the boy that he may buy cars and toys, but “Your stories, songs and beating heart / Are truly yours and yours alone.” These stories are sacred and should be passed “from age to youth,” and he should never use “another’s tale / Unless he knows and he approves.” Bouchard’s rhythmic text successfully conveys an emotive and sensory approach to the relationship between the two, enriching the story and echoing the hand-lettered onomatopoeic syllables that represent chanting and drumbeats. Sapp’s profound paintings bring sincere and reassuring images that support and enhance the tale. An audio CD with English and Cree narration by the author (with accompaniment by the music of Northern Cree) is included.

A stunning picture book that celebrates life, family relations, and determination to preserve traditions and heritage. (artist’s note) (Picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-88995-500-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Less pathological than Love You Forever but aimed at the same audience.

ONE MORE HUG

The reassurance of “one more hug” allows a little boy to take on fears, new challenges, and responsibilities as he grows into an older boy, adolescent, and finally young man.

Graceful gouache paintings delineate a child’s progress, from coping with the fear of a storm and a broken toy through the first time on a school bus, growing older and learning to climb a tree, ride a bike, play soccer, training with the track team, and, ultimately, driving away to life on his own. All the while, Mama is there to provide support and love, always with a special hug. Related in the past tense by Mama, the narrative reflects a nostalgic remembrance yet conveys the constant unbreakable bond between mother and child. “But even though you were older, you were still my boy. And you asked for… // one more hug before your big performance.” In a final sentimental reflection, Mama wonders if her now-adult son understands her pride and love for him and is happily rewarded with a surprise visit and “one more hug.” Children will enjoy reviewing the relatable illustrations of a growing child’s activities; however, it’s parents who will undoubtedly identify with the emotions. According to the author’s note, the intent is to assure parents that sons should be allowed to express their feelings. Both Mama and son are white.

Less pathological than Love You Forever but aimed at the same audience. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2971-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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