THE BUTTER MAN

On Saturday evening, Nora’s mother is at work, and Nora waits for her father to cook couscous. To pass the time, he talks about his childhood in Morocco. During a time without rain, his father sold the cow and left for the mountains to work. Soon, there was no butter left and only bread to eat. Young Ali’s mother sent him to wait for the butter man, but Ali ate the bread before his arrival. Day after day this happened, until finally, Ali’s father returned with food. And the butter man? Perhaps he never came, but the rain did, and eventually, the family was able to buy another cow. With perfect timing, Nora’s mother arrives home from work, and the family enjoys a flavorful feast in a satisfying conclusion of this realistic Jack in the Beanstalk tale. Essakalli’s memorable gouache illustrations provide a sense of place, and while the Berber words in the text are not always immediately defined, a glossary is located in the back. Also includes an informative author’s note on the Berber, or Imazighen, people of Morocco. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58089-127-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Contemplative, curious, and kind.

A MAP INTO THE WORLD

A young Hmong American girl shares the small things of wonder that make up her world.

When Paj Ntaub moves into a new green house with big windows with her family, the garden grows with “tomatoes, green beans, and a watermelon as round as my mother’s belly.” Soon, the green house becomes their house. Paj Ntaub helps “Tais Tais hang the special story cloth about how the Hmong got to America.” She exchanges waves with her neighbors Bob and Ruth, an elderly white couple even older than Tais Tais. And changing seasons usher in life and death. In gentle prose, Yang’s picture-book debut explores nature, community, and connection. Twin brothers are born amid the summer bounty in the garden. On a snowy, cold morning, loss arrives, and bare gingko trees “[reach] for the sky with their thin fingers” against the new emptiness of the house across the street. When the world becomes green again, Paj Ntaub draws together these connections in a neighborly gesture of comfort. Using digital graphite, pastels, watercolor, and scanned handmade textures, Kim brings detailed dimension to the green house and the world around it. Alternating perspectives capture the expansiveness of the outside as well as the intimacy of Paj Ntaub’s observations.

Contemplative, curious, and kind. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3836-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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