A lovely and needed story of familia in which love conquers loss.



Family love in the face of loss is poignantly shared by de Anda and Harris.

Luis, Mama, Papi, their dog, Sancho, and beloved Abuelo are one tight familia. When Luis gets home from school he spends the afternoons with Abuelo building models, learning to paint, and sharing stories alongside tasty snacks. As time passes, things begin to change. When Abuelo can no longer remember how to fit the models together, he and Luis can still paint side by side. When he forgets to turn off the stove, quesadillas transform into tasty PB&Js instead. But when Abuelo goes missing one day, it is clear things are changing quickly and will never be the same. What afflicts Abuelo is never explicitly identified as the story unfolds, tenderly told in simple first person from Luis’ innocent and loving perspective as he slowly confronts new symptoms of his grandfather’s progressive dementia. His mother gives Luis sage advice that even though Abuelo’s memory is slipping he will always feel Luis’ love. Though this is certainly a sweet sentiment, many dementia patients experience apathy and changes in personality along with their memory loss, so the truth of Mama’s words is somewhat in doubt. This is nevertheless a touching and well-told story of the heartbreak of memory loss through the lens of family-oriented Latino culture.

A lovely and needed story of familia in which love conquers loss. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1492-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Instructive on several levels—and good, wet fun! (Informational picture book. 4-7)


Is it a universal truth that kids don’t like baths?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Children may not like the bathing experience at first, but they often don’t want it to end. By home bathtubs, communal baths, lakes, rivers, and even a mud volcano, cajoling adults say, “Yes, yes,” while unwilling children shout, “No, no!” These words, in many languages (in English transliteration) and their phonetic pronunciations (in a smaller font), are woven into the illustrations (and so are not always easily read). Exuberant illustrations, emphasizing aqueous blues and greens, are executed in oils with collage elements and finished in Photoshop. The unclothed young children and more modestly covered adults have different skin and hair colors, but the book starts in an unnamed country (the U.S.?) with a loving, brown-skinned mom summoning her reluctant child to an old-fashioned bathtub. The same adorable boy doesn’t want to leave the tub at the end and splashes his mom, who then cuddles him reassuringly in a towel. In between these familiar domestic scenes, a Japanese family lines up to use the ofuro, a square wooden tub; Turkish siblings go to the hammann, a beautifully decorated bathhouse; an Indian dad and his little boy go to the Ganges to “honor their ancestors”; and an Alaskan Yup’ik family visits a maquii for a traditional sweat bath. Although there is no map, there are lively explanatory notes.

Instructive on several levels—and good, wet fun! (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-544-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A triumphant declaration of love and identity.



A Black transgender boy shares his identity and competes in a karate tournament with the encouragement of his family in this picture-book biography.

Penelope knows who he is and what he likes even if his family is too busy to notice him. He stomps through the house, cuts in line, and pounds his fists so they will hear, see, and feel his anger that everyone thinks he’s a girl. When his mom stops to listen, he tells her about his gender and helps her understand that he doesn’t just feel like a boy, he is one. With his family’s support behind him and the strength of his own determination to never give up, Penelope comes out at school and faces a new challenge: competing in a karate tournament. First-person narration centers Penelope’s feelings and perspective in every stage of his story. Warmth and pride in identity radiate from the pages, brightened by the expressive, lively illustrations. The adults in Penelope’s life model care by encouraging him to speak for himself and listening to him when he does. One thing he speaks up about is that he likes his name: Penelope. Perseverance also stands out as a significant theme within the narrative, with emphasis placed on Penelope’s diligent practice and refusal to quit leading up to his victory. This representation of a Black family and transgender child (author Patterson is Penelope’s mother) shines with joy and affirmation. (Since the creation of this book, the author's son has changed his name to Penel.) (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50.4% of actual size)

A triumphant declaration of love and identity. (Picture book/biography. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12363-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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