A BEAN AND CHEESE TACO BIRTHDAY / UN CUMPLEAÑOS CON TACOS DE FRIJOLES CON QUESO

Darío is excited for his younger brother Ariel’s upcoming birthday. How will the family celebrate?

Darío hopes that Ariel’s fifth birthday celebration will be as exciting as his was, with a huge party, all of his friends, and lots of presents. He can’t believe it when Ariel decides that all he wants is to eat bean and cheese tacos with his family in the park. How disappointing! But when the day arrives, Darío begins to see and feel how the little things make the day truly special for Ariel. Mom and Dad (Mamá and Papá in the parallel Spanish translation) pick the boys up from school together. The park is nearly empty, and they have the playground to themselves. The simple bean and cheese tacos are delicious. Ended here, the book would be a sweet tale of savoring the simple things in life. Unfortunately, it meanders on. The boys meet the park ranger, who takes them for a ride in his ranger car and shows them all of his important equipment, such as life jackets and his first aid kit. It’s a strange detour that causes the quality of the story to dissipate with every page turn. Though the illustrations do at times convey the joyful bond of the family, overall they appear lackluster and washed-out, doing little to enhance the text.

Benign but bland. (Bilingual picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55885-812-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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