RIVKA’S FIRST THANKSGIVING

This paean to the wisdom of children is based on Rael’s (When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street, 1997, etc.) own memories as a child of Jewish immigrants growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and will remind many readers of Barbara Cohen’s Molly’s Pilgrim. Like Cohen’s tale, Rivka Rubin’s story is set in early 20th-century New York City. In Rael’s treatment, however, it is the child who understands intuitively that Thanksgiving is indeed a holiday for all Americans and thus may rightfully be embraced by recently arrived Jews, for they have much to be grateful for in having arrived in the US. It’s not so easy to convince the adults around her, though, unfamiliar as they are with this American tradition. The neighborhood’s revered rabbi initially decides that Thanksgiving is not a celebration for Jews, and that’s enough to settle the matter for Rivka’s family. Determinedly and with a show of the special brand of chutzpah given only to children, Rivka writes the rabbi a letter that begins: “My Bubbeh believes you are the wisest man in the whole world, but I cannot agree with her.” The rabbi ultimately gives his blessing to Rivka’s argument and is invited to sit at the head of the table at the Rubin family’s first Thanksgiving celebration in America. Kovalski’s (Jingle Bells, 1999, etc.) charming drawings, rendered in colored pencils and acrylics, burst with good cheer and beautifully depict the bustling streets of the Lower East Side and its close-knit families. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83901-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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