A captivating tale about a charming tortoise.


Buddy Comes to Breakfast

In this nonfiction illustrated children’s book, a trip to a Western state leads to an endearing acquaintance with a reptile.

When Emeigh (Cafeteria Covenant, 2012) traveled to the Mojave Desert in Nevada to see her friend Amelie, she also met the woman’s small, brown tortoise, Buddy. Buddy lived in Amelie’s backyard, and throughout the visit, it entertained the author by munching on broccoli and local plants, taking baths, crawling in and out of its den, and even chomping gently on Emeigh’s foot at one point (“I discovered his mouth was sharp and hard like a bird’s beak. It pinched!”). The young desert tortoise, whose shell displayed “yellow-orange hexagonal shapes,” enjoyed a varied diet. “One thing that Buddy really likes to eat is Aloe,” Emeigh observes, while noticing that the reptile didn’t seem to relish weeds. The tortoise’s gender was still a mystery: “It will take almost five years to determine whether Buddy is male or female. Among other distinctions between the sexes, males have longer tails, and a larger gular horn under their chins.” Although the book is essentially a description of the tortoise and its activities, lyrical writing (“the desert exhaled heat as we made our way to the car in the airport parking garage”) helps to engage the reader in the tale’s sensory details. Additionally, the anthropomorphization of Buddy and the expression of the relationship between the tortoise and the author provide a narrative thread that makes the story cohesive. Because the account is entertaining, it manages to slip in facts without making them seem dull or dry. Before the yarn’s end, the reader learns that Buddy can hear and smell “very well” and possesses excellent eyesight and a well-developed sense of taste, among other trivia. A mix of gorgeous watercolor illustrations and sharp photographs by Emeigh accompanies these facts. The pictures, like the descriptions, help to invoke strong senses of place and character that ground the work. The book’s only flaw is an occasional gap in information. For example, words like “brumation” are thrown into the narrative without any explanation of what they mean. (A glossary at the end defines brumate as a state of “prolonged” inactivity for reptiles, similar to hibernation.) But, given the volume’s overall strengths, readers’ curiosity should be aroused enough to prompt them to look up any unfamiliar words in the glossary.

A captivating tale about a charming tortoise.

Pub Date: July 11, 2015


Page Count: 34

Publisher: Livingwell Seed Co. Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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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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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.


Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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