THE ADVENTURES OF CHUPACABRA CHARLIE

From the Latinographix series

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 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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