From the I Can Read! series

A sweet friendship story that reassures kids that it’s OK to be scared.

Spunky Latine protagonist Reina Ramos is back, and this time she has a big furry problem.

Reina and her friend Lila love to practice gymnastics at the park, and they both adore their neighbor Ms. Carol’s tiny and adorable dog, Gala. Later, at school, Lila shares the news that she’ll be getting her own dog soon, and Reina can’t wait to meet the new pup. Reina is startled to discover, however, that Lila’s new dog isn’t small like Ms. Carol’s—Chico is huge, with a loud bark and sharp teeth. Reina avoids Chico—and Lila—as much as possible and focuses instead on perfecting her cartwheel, though it’s lonely without her friend. No longer able to hide her fear from Lila, Reina admits she’s uneasy around Lila’s big dog, and the two have a heart-to-heart. Lila is understanding and supportive of her friend, and the girls are able to happily resume their carefree park gymnastics play with a well-behaved Chico as their audience. Accompanied by charming illustrations of big-eyed, expressive characters, this is a simple yet encouraging tale with a wonderful message about friendship and fears. Easy-to-decode sentences with potentially new vocabulary words, as well as a handful of unitalicized Spanish words sprinkled in, are ideal for developing readers. Reina and her mom have brown skin and curly brown hair; Lila and her dad present Black.

A sweet friendship story that reassures kids that it’s OK to be scared. (Spanish glossary) (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9780063223158

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023



A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014


Warm but underdone.

In this picture book from actor Gyllenhaal and his partner, Caruso, a child and his uncle bond on a fantastic journey.

Leo, an avid dancer, is dismayed when Uncle Mo visits—he’s in town for a “rubber band convention.” Illustrations show both with wavy brown hair and light tan skin. Not only does Leo think his uncle is rather dull, he’s also leery of Uncle Mo’s many rules. A rather abrupt narrative shift occurs when the pair inexplicably drive into another dimension. Here they encounter Great-Aunt Gloria (who is very tall and presents Black) and Uncle Munkle Carbunkle (who is very short and light-skinned), who guide them through the Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles. Unimpressed with Uncle Mo, Great-Aunt Gloria says he must take a quiz on “Auntieology and Uncleology.” After several wrong answers, Uncle Mo has a final chance at redemption: He must state his nephew’s favorite activity. When Leo springs into action to dance for his clueless uncle, a mishap leaves him mortified and un-bespectacled. Enter Uncle Mo to save the day by using a rubber band to secure Leo’s glasses. While Santat’s energetic illustrations do much to clarify the narrative, they can’t fully make up for the disjointed storytelling—it’s never clear why the two have entered this dimension or why Leo is suddenly so eager to help Uncle Mo. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Warm but underdone. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781250776990

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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