In today’s complex world, this book offers a humbling reminder about our arduous histories, though it has significant gaps



A heartfelt U.S. history lesson that’s less about our differences and more about how “We are ALL Americans, / Just the same.”

Known for her trademark folkloric spreads, Caldecott Honoree Ringgold showcases the arrival of people immigrating to America. By way of luscious colors and powerful illustrations, readers embark upon a journey toward togetherness, though it’s not without its hardships: “Some of us were already here / Before the others came,” reads an image with Native Americans clad in ornate jewelry and patterned robes. The following spread continues, “And some of us were brought in chains, / Losing our freedom and our names.” Depicted on juxtaposing pages are three bound, enslaved Africans and an African family unchained, free. The naïve-style acrylic paintings feature bold colors and ethnic diversity—Jewish families, Europeans, Asian, and South Asian groups all come to their new home. Muslims and Latinos clearly recognizable as such are absent, and Ringgold’s decision to portray smiling, chained slaves is sure to raise questions (indeed, all figures throughout display small smiles). Despite these stumbling blocks, the book’s primary, communal message, affirmed in its oft-repeated refrain, is a welcome one: “We came to America, / Every color, race, and religion, / From every country in the world.” Preceding the story, Ringgold dedicates the book “to all the children who come to America….May we welcome them….”

In today’s complex world, this book offers a humbling reminder about our arduous histories, though it has significant gaps . (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-517-70947-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character


From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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