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

READ REVIEW

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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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