An engaging family tale with eye-catching illustrations.



In this debut picture book, a young boy fears the shadows and shapes in his dark house until his father comforts him.

When Obi’s mother forgets to turn on his night light, the house seems very dark and scary. A light inside the boy’s closet convinces him there are monsters inside. After Obi goes into the hall to call for his mother, the shadows chase him back under the covers. Thumping on the stairs makes Obi think that a giant is after him. Luckily, Daddy comes in to soothe his nerves and shows him there’s nothing to fear. Daddy also tells him: “Even though you were scared, you were super brave!” Obi goes to sleep feeling super but glad Daddy turned on his night light. A family prayer, verses of Scripture, and conversation prompts close out the end pages. In this fun tale, Okonkwo writes in simple sentences broken into paragraphs that frequently feature internal rhymes (bed, forehead, said). A few more challenging vocabulary words (mysterious, imagination) make this story appropriate for emergent readers, especially those who still get nervous in the dark. Obi’s understandable fears and growing confidence should comfort children who have had similar experiences. Veteran artist Hnatenko’s soft-edged images centering on an African American family capture Obi’s anxieties while showing how his imagination created the monsters. (One small, friendly-looking monster, which Obi has been drawing in art posted on his wall, shows up in the end pages.)

An engaging family tale with eye-catching illustrations.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73738-230-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Okonkwo Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...


Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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