For nature lovers or those seeking season-relevant meditations for classroom reflection and discussion.

SUMMER NORTH COMING

A full-color experience of the seasons in Canada’s north.

In Bentley’s poetic text, the smell of “fragrant muskeg rose” and the climbing sun welcome readers to the north’s summer. In the accompanying illustration, readers notice two brown-skinned children paddling a rowboat in a pond. As the story continues, these same children take part in other activities as well: berry picking, swimming, playing in the rain, and staying up late. Soon summer fades, and outdoor labors shift to fish drying and food storing. With “summer north waving” goodbye, the children spend the longer evenings indoors with three characters assumed to be family: darker-skinned mother and grandmother and their lighter-skinned father. When winter finally arrives, the piles of snow offer their own unique moments of fun—outside and indoors—with a multicultural cast of friends and their families. Although strongly visual phrases, such as “stained hands” (from “summer pick berries”) and “trees flaming yellow,” combine with equally bold phrases that appeal to the other senses to create a lyrical celebration of life in all its cycles, readers desiring a plot-driven tale or one rich in character development will notice their absences. Additionally, while Bartram’s texture-creating techniques enhance muted, earthy-toned illustrations, providing the depth and nuance found in nature, an overall lack of cultural specifics (beaded leather footwear is a notable exception) gives the double-page spreads an emotional flatness.

For nature lovers or those seeking season-relevant meditations for classroom reflection and discussion. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55455-465-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging.

ISLANDBORN

A young girl’s homework assignment unravels the history and beauty of her homeland.

Lola and her classmates are assigned to draw pictures of their respective origin countries. With excitement, the others begin sharing what they will draw: pyramids, a long canal, a mongoose. Lola, concerned, doesn’t remember what life was like on the Island, and so she recruits her whole neighborhood. There is Leticia, her cousin; Mrs. Bernard, who sells the crispy empanadas; Leticia’s brother Jhonathan, a barber; her mother; her abuela; and their gruff building superintendent. With every description, Lola learns something new: about the Island’s large bats, mangoes, colorful people, music and dancing everywhere, the beaches and sea life, and devastating hurricanes. Espinosa’s fine, vibrant illustrations dress the story in colorful cacophony and play with texture (hair especially) as Lola conjures images of her homeland. While the story does not identify the Island by name, readers familiar with Díaz’s repertoire will instantly identify it as the Dominican Republic, a conclusion that’s supported when the super recalls the Monster (Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo), and sharp-eyed readers should look at the magnets on Lola’s refrigerator. Lola, Teresa Mlawer’s translation, is just as poignant as the original.

Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2986-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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