DEAR PRIMO

A LETTER TO MY COUSIN

In a story based on the author’s childhood experiences, two cousins, Charlie and Carlitos, exchange letters. Charlie lives in the United States; his primo Carlitos lives in Mexico. They both write about the friends, games, foods, fiestas and holidays they know. Like the characters in “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” their lives are very different. But readers will discover that there are more than differences. There is something that unifies them: They both wish to meet each other someday. What sets this title apart are Tonatiuh’s outstanding full-page illustrations, reminiscent of the aesthetic and style of the Mixtec codices. His clever use of colors, Mayan blue and Indian red for the Mexican setting and a variety of grays, blacks and browns mixed with bright colors for the U.S. urban scenes, the varying typefaces used on each side of the story and the inclusion of Spanish terms in Carlitos’s letter all contribute to differentiate both cultural experiences but make them at the same time positive, attractive and special. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8109-3872-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

Categories:

BECAUSE YOUR DADDY LOVES YOU

Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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