One part fiction, one part history lesson, this likable story is an amusing introduction to one slice of early American life.

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INDEPENDENCE CAKE

A REVOLUTIONARY CONFECTION INSPIRED BY AMELIA SIMMONS, WHOSE TRUE HISTORY IS UNFORTUNATELY UNKNOWN

The true history of Amelia Simmons, the author of America’s first cookbook, has been lost. Enter this whimsical, fictionalized account of what could’ve been, delectable cakes included!

After Amelia’s parents die in the first two sentences, the mob-capped white girl is taken in by Mrs. Bean to help with chores and watch her six rambunctious sons, all also white. Amelia cleans clothes, scrubs pots, picks apples, and that’s only half of it! What she doesn’t already know how to do, she learns. Mrs. Bean is ever so grateful. “You’ve brightened our lives like a star on the flag.” In addition to her chores, Amelia wants “to learn good, plain American cookery and [to] share recipes with my fellow citizens.” Soon, Amelia is inventing delicious new recipes using American ingredients and becomes the talk of the town, eventually baking the titular (enormous!) cake in honor of the newly elected president, George Washington. The tale presents a distinctly rosy vision of life as an orphaned “bound girl” in late-18th-century America. Too good to be true? Perhaps. But Hopkinson’s lively text—rife with allegorical Americana—and Potter’s charming watercolor-and-ink illustrations team up to tell an entertaining story. Readers will delight in spotting every single rosy-cheeked Bean boy on the page, all up to no good!

One part fiction, one part history lesson, this likable story is an amusing introduction to one slice of early American life. (author’s note, recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-39017-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Not the most eggceptional tale on the Easter story shelf but still a fun-enough outing for fans of Turkey’s holiday-themed...

TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER

From the Turkey Trouble series

The fourth entry in the Turkey Trouble series finds Turkey and his animal friends attending a children’s Easter egg hunt at a park next to Turkey’s farm.

Turkey and his pals want to win an “eggstraspecial” prize at the egg hunt, but the event is only for children—not animals. So the group of animal friends decides to attend the egg hunt in disguise and treat their adventure as a “secret mission.” Their disguises include dark glasses and costumes suggesting a rabbit, a bee, and a bunch of daffodils, but each attempt to participate in the egg hunt is rebuffed by the human attendees. The animals work together to create a large, egg-shaped costume for Turkey from a wicker basket, and Turkey and the boy who finds him in egg mode both win special prizes. Turkey shares his prize of a huge, jelly-bean–topped pizza with all his animal buddies. The mildly humorous story has funny animal characters, inventive action, and lots of puns incorporating “egg” into other words. Cartoon-style watercolor-and-pencil illustrations add to the humor with amusing animal expressions and the ongoing series theme of silly costumes. Several of the children at the egg hunt are children of color; the other human characters present white.

Not the most eggceptional tale on the Easter story shelf but still a fun-enough outing for fans of Turkey’s holiday-themed series. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4037-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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