Delectable treats plus family history make this a sweet story to share.




Zunon writes and illustrates an ode to her grandfather, a cacao worker in the Ivory Coast, through the eyes of a young girl.

As they bake their favorite chocolate cake for her birthday, the girl’s father tells her that chocolate is a gift from farmers like her grandpa, and she asks him to tell her about Grandpa Cacao again. As they mix their cake batter, the pictures show her father’s homeland, “where the air breathes hot and damp, thick with stories and music and the languages of people from tiny villages and big cities.” He describes the hard work Grandpa Cacao did on the farm, carrying heavy loads, picking ripe fruit, scooping out the cacao pods, spreading them out to dry. As they put their cake in the oven, the little girl wonders what special treat her mother is bringing home for her birthday. When the doorbell rings, she is thrilled to meet the best surprise ever. Zunon’s familiar paint-and-collage illustrations use glowing brown faces and natural tones in the girl’s story and white, screen-printed human figures against painted backgrounds in the father’s story set in the Ivory Coast. The story is replete with sensory details, and two spreads of backmatter round out the informational content, including maps, history, and a cake recipe.

Delectable treats plus family history make this a sweet story to share. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-640-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.


In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A masterful salute to fatherhood.

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A collection of poetry that celebrates dads and all they do with and for their children.

The 15 poems collected here focus mostly on the tiny moments that mean so much to children and are remembered years later—the Sunday breakfasts shared between parent and child, the way dad dances his daughter around on his feet, the wrestling matches and playing catch, learning to ride a two-wheeler, and reading books together. A few are more generic: comparing dad to various animals, dad’s snoring, a cheer for dad, and one that looks at the many jobs dads have, though the narrator’s has the best—he stays at home. The line breaks and rhyme schemes make the poems accessible to those reading aloud, and the diverse array of people depicted, most of color, and different combinations (several father-and-child pairs are not of the same race) ensure that readers will find at least one like themselves in these pages. The torn-paper collages (with a few added items for buttons, a watch face, and wire-rim glasses) with no inked details mean that faces are blank slates, so the bulk of the emotion has to come from body positioning, posture, and the relations between figures on a page; Smith has mastered this, conveying so much with tilting heads and embracing arms.

A masterful salute to fatherhood. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9189-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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