The illustrations’ muted colors and the poetic rhythm of the words slow the world down for remembering.

ON THE TRAPLINE

A Swampy Cree grandfather shows his grandson what it means to be connected to family and the land.

Moshom takes his grandson, the narrator, on a long journey to visit his boyhood home. He wants his grandson to see his family’s trapline, “where people hunt animals and live off the land.” To get there, they fly on a plane and go to a small house beside a big lake. “This is where we lived after we left the trapline.” They walk through a forest and see an old school building. “Most of the kids only spoke Cree, but at the school all of us had to talk and learn in English.” They travel in a small motorboat to an island, where “Moshom’s eyes light up.” He says, “That’s my trapline.” There are beaver dams and eagles and rock paintings. Moshom tells how everyone “slept in one big tent, so they could keep warm at night,” how even the youngest children had chores, and everyone shared the work. He tells how they caught muskrats, ate the meat, and sold the pelts “to buy…things you couldn’t get on the trapline.” Before leaving the island, the boy holds Moshom’s hand. His grandpa is quiet. “Kiskisiw means ‘he remembers.’ ” Swampy Cree words and their definitions conclude each page, summing up its themes. Robertson’s text is as spare as Flett’s artwork, leaving plenty of space for readers to feel the emotions evoked by both. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The illustrations’ muted colors and the poetic rhythm of the words slow the world down for remembering. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6668-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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