A charming winter story about friendship and making do with love.

A SLED FOR GABO

Waking up on a cold winter morning to fresh snow makes little Gabo wish for nothing more than a sled…and maybe a new friend.

Gabo walks into the kitchen to the familiar sounds of the old steam radiator whistling and a can in a saucepan on the stove, bouncing as the water boils, when he sees children from his new school sledding outside. Gabo very much wants to join them, but his hat is too small, his socks are cotton (not wool), and his shoes are not waterproof. And he doesn’t have a sled. Gabo’s mom helps out, and with his dad’s hat, four pairs of socks, and plastic bags over his sneakers, he is ready to go outside. Gabo comes across different neighbors and family members in his community, and eventually he makes a new friend who is good at thinking outside the box and teaches him that a cafeteria tray can be a sled with a little imagination. This sweet story centers a Latinx family and touches on issues of poverty. Spanish words and phrases are scattered throughout, accessible to non–Spanish speakers through context, though some touches (such as the dulce de leche Gabo enjoys with his new friend at the end of the day) are left unexplained for readers familiar with the culture to savor. The illustrations are bright and cheerful, making everything stand out nicely against the snowy day. Big expressions on Gabo’s face will be easy for young kids to identify and relate to what he is feeling across his journey. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48.5% of actual size.)

A charming winter story about friendship and making do with love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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