ANGELA'S CHRISTMAS

A reissue of McCourt’s Irish Nativity story.

Like his Pulitzer Prize–winning title, Angela’s Ashes (1996), McCourt’s picture book (first published in 2007 as Angela and the Baby Jesus) draws on his mother’s life. Recently adapted as a Netflix animated film, the story is now rereleased with a new title. In both versions, Colón’s delicate, sure watercolor, colored pencil, and lithograph pencil illustrations lend light and warmth to the story of a little girl’s worry that the baby Jesus in her church’s Nativity is cold. Filled with good intentions, she absconds with the figurine and hides it in her warm bed. Rich dialogue that captures the characters’ Shannonsider brogue enlivens McCourt’s storytelling while subtle characterization evokes tender familial dynamics. Angela’s elder brother, Pat, characterized as mentally disabled, sees her with the baby Jesus and tells their mother, who initially says he has “a great imagination.” Angela is upset when he persists and gives away her secret. Alarmed, but sure of her daughter’s benevolence, Mammy marches the family to the church to return the baby Jesus, where they encounter the priest and a policeman searching for the thief. The resolution hinges on Pat’s benevolence when he misunderstands the policeman’s gentle ribbing that his sister will go to jail and offers himself in her stead.

Warm indeed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6122-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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