From the Latinographix series

Timely yet skippable.

A chupacabra and its human friend look for adventures on the borderland.

Charlie is a 10-year-old chupacabra, a monster from “made-up human stories.” Except Charlie is real. Charlie and family live on the border close to “the land they call Estados Unidos,” but Charlie has never seen over The Wall. One night, thirsty for adventures, Charlie sneaks out and searches for a friend. Soon, Charlie meets Lupe, a human girl who joins the search for adventures. As they reach The Wall and try to scale it, the duo realizes they’ll need help to cross over. After The Wall helps them—it turns out it is sentient—they are tasked with a mission: rescuing the niños who are lost on the other side and held captive by Big People in Green. The adventure Charlie and Lupe embark on is a timely and courageous one as it addresses the migration crisis on the border and the imprisonment of children. Gaunt-looking humans fill the pages, with contrasting kind-looking and nonthreatening (but still monstrous) chupacabras that flip the idea of what is a threat. However, the illustrations at times seem to defeat the purpose, as they are filled with Mexican stereotypes of congested city streets and thick-mustachioed men, like El Señor Big Bigote. Spanish words in the text are italicized and easily understood through context clues and immediate translation.

Timely yet skippable. (note, glossary) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: June 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8142-5586-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Mad Creek/Ohio State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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