A clever picture book with an unexpected punch line that will delight young readers.

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THE LITTLE MOUSE SANTI

A mouse who wants to be a cat has a conversation that leads to an unexpected outcome in this delightful picture book by debut author Ray, featuring illustrations by Germano (The German King, 2013).

Young mouse Santi is envious of the farm cats who drink cream, take naps and receive pets from the farmer’s wife. He eagerly wants to take part in these cat activities and be included in the feline community. To that end, he practices doing what cats do: swishing his tail, bathing himself, meowing and ignoring everyone; the last turns out to be a convenient skill when his friends mock him for his behavior. Eventually, he gathers his courage and approaches a real-life cat, hoping to get an introduction to the rest of the farm felines. What happens next will surprise young readers and adults alike in a turn of events that supports the book’s theme that a mouse, cat or kid can become whatever he or she truly wants to be. Ray’s text is spare and approachable, with repetitious phrases (“He would practice strutting across the floor, swishing his tail”; “He would practice taking cat baths”; “He would practice his meows all day and night”) that will be accessible to beginning, independent readers. Santi has an admirable devotion to his dream and a realistic fear that he won’t be accepted by the felines that he admires most. The clever text is elevated to a true delight by Germano’s wonderful, cartoonish images, which look like they wouldn’t be out of place in a Studio Ghibli animated film. Many of the illustrations are spread out across two pages: For example, the opening tableau shows Santi approaching a yarn ball, and his shadow on the wall is that of a cat’s, which sets a perfect tone for the story to come. Germano also deeply captures Santi’s expressions—happiness, longing and fear—in a style that’s full of kid appeal.

A clever picture book with an unexpected punch line that will delight young readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0692252253

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bienville Ray LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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