A heartening, uplifting story of intergenerational connection.

COFFEE AND CEDAR

FINDING STRENGTH FROM MEMORIES

A boy receives lifelong encouragement from his grandfather in Cermeño’s picture book.

Orphaned as a baby, David is raised by his grandfather, Atun, who provides guidance and support. For instance, when classmates tease young David, Atun urges him to stay strong. The boy repeats his grandfather’s phrase, “El sol no se tapa con un dedo” (“You cannot cover the sun with a single finger”). As David grows up, Atun shares anecdotes, and when David is nervous to audition for the school play, Atun recounts when his own father encouraged him to apply for a job despite others’ doubts. David even seeks Atun’s advice when he’s away at college, and they remain close until Atun’s death. Though devastated, David finds “Strength From Memories,” pursues his dreams, and shares his grandfather’s wisdom with his own son. This slice-of-life tale effectively depicts how family stories are passed down, and the grandfather-grandson relationship will appeal to readers with similar family bonds. Cermeño thoughtfully incorporates how sense-memories have an everlasting impact on one’s life; for example, Atun is soothed by the scent of coffee, which reminds of happy times with his dad. Woodcock provides soft, textured paintings with warm watercolor accents. They follow the story’s events, showing David onstage, young Atun cooking, and characters embracing; the pages are also decorated with coffee splatters.

A heartening, uplifting story of intergenerational connection.

Pub Date: April 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952233-12-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Indie Books International

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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