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LET ME FIX YOU A PLATE

A TALE OF TWO KITCHENS

A storytelling feast for the whole family, no matter where you live.

A feast for the eyes prepared in kitchens brimming with familial love.

Three children with light-brown skin and dark brown hair join their parents (Mommy resembles the kids; Daddy’s White) on a family vacation. They drive first to West Virginia mountains filled with misty morning fog, Papaw’s coffee with cream but no sugar, and Mamaw’s vanilla wafer cookies. A few days later, they proceed to a little orange house in Florida with Spanish-speaking Abuela and Abuelo and naranjas to pick. Each set of grandparents greets the family with open arms, a welcoming kitchen, and familiar, comforting interactions that demonstrate a persistent closeness despite miles and time apart. Though the visits are short, the experiences are deep and continue to resonate throughout the long drive home. The journey is told on multiple levels across pictures and text that entice readers, like the mouthwatering portrayals of home-cooked meals prepared and served by two extended families and two cultures. Lilly’s loose yet warm illustration style, awash in a rainbow of colors and textures, captures the love in these families. A third, hybrid kitchen is revealed at home, when the family returns and mixes the journey’s experiences into a big plate of waffles to be gobbled up before bed. Various important family items are portrayed and labeled throughout the book to encourage readers to go back and find them in the story.

A storytelling feast for the whole family, no matter where you live. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4325-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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I'M PROUD OF YOU

Affectionate and affirming.

Today co-anchor Melvin pens an ode to the father-son bond.

A dad lists all the things he admires about his son, including the boy’s willingness to face his fears (such as diving into the swimming pool) and his ability to “make people laugh, / bring joy to folks.” The child shows “kindness and grace” when apologizing for a mistake, and he perseveres in the face of failure (“They can’t all be wins”). The boy has an inquisitive mind (“You ask questions and investigate. / Who knows what you’ll find?”), and he’s a caring big brother who loves building sand castles with his younger sibling. Ultimately, the father salutes his son for the person he is “through good times and bad, / no matter what.” Melvin conveys the joy of watching a child grow into a strong, capable adult while maintaining a sense of childlike wonder. Rather than focusing on traditionally masculine activities or attitudes, he celebrates qualities such as emotional intelligence and a nurturing spirit. While the text on occasion dips into sentimentality, overall Melvin delivers a sound message. Cloud’s digital illustrations depict the family and their diverse community with expressive faces, capturing their myriad emotions and lending the book an exuberant tone. The father presents Black, his partner appears white, and the tan-skinned children are biracial; all are unnamed.

Affectionate and affirming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063206137

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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