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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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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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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