Girl readers will come away embracing their best possible selves.

BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND FOREVER!

Inspired by a real-life child acquaintance of the author, this book aims to encourage girls of all ages to believe in themselves and know they are just enough the way they are.

Protagonist Jayla begins by inviting readers to a heart-to-heart conversation: “Okay, girls…I’ve got something to say!” She’s proud of her mixed African American, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx identity. She offers readers definitive steps to build confidence and self-trust, telling them not to listen to the negative messages they hear in their heads. “That’s called negative self-talk. It’s not good for you, and you don’t have to listen to it!” She goes further: “If your friends tell you those negative things, GET NEW FRIENDS!” Jayla suggests ways to practice positive self-talk, including a simple list of affirmations, and exhorts readers to embrace their unique characteristics. “They make you, YOU!” Robinson’s posterlike illustrations place images of the bespectacled, brown-skinned Jayla at the centers of compositions, disorienting, dark backgrounds containing the negative messages she spurns, including a bank of TV screens blaring such mottos as “Fair-skinned Girls are Pretty” and “Skinny is Best.” Other backgrounds resemble flower-power designs from the early 1970s; another literally depicts right-brain/left-brain strengths, with arithmetic equations on one side and exuberant paint splatters on the other. Jayla ends with a final piece of advice: “believe in yourself and be your own Best Friend forever!”

Girl readers will come away embracing their best possible selves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939053-34-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: 7th Generation

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Instructive on several levels—and good, wet fun! (Informational picture book. 4-7)

AROUND THE WORLD IN A BATHTUB

Is it a universal truth that kids don’t like baths?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Children may not like the bathing experience at first, but they often don’t want it to end. By home bathtubs, communal baths, lakes, rivers, and even a mud volcano, cajoling adults say, “Yes, yes,” while unwilling children shout, “No, no!” These words, in many languages (in English transliteration) and their phonetic pronunciations (in a smaller font), are woven into the illustrations (and so are not always easily read). Exuberant illustrations, emphasizing aqueous blues and greens, are executed in oils with collage elements and finished in Photoshop. The unclothed young children and more modestly covered adults have different skin and hair colors, but the book starts in an unnamed country (the U.S.?) with a loving, brown-skinned mom summoning her reluctant child to an old-fashioned bathtub. The same adorable boy doesn’t want to leave the tub at the end and splashes his mom, who then cuddles him reassuringly in a towel. In between these familiar domestic scenes, a Japanese family lines up to use the ofuro, a square wooden tub; Turkish siblings go to the hammann, a beautifully decorated bathhouse; an Indian dad and his little boy go to the Ganges to “honor their ancestors”; and an Alaskan Yup’ik family visits a maquii for a traditional sweat bath. Although there is no map, there are lively explanatory notes.

Instructive on several levels—and good, wet fun! (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-544-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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An affectionate, mouthwatering tale.

IT'S A MUFFULETTA! IT'S A WHATA?

Based on a true story, this illustrated children’s book explains the origin of a signature sandwich.

After leaving Palermo, Sicily, Signor Salvatore Lupo comes to New Orleans in 1906. He plans to open a grocery shop stocked with delicacies such as pasta, salami, and more, catering to immigrants like him who miss the taste of home. Nearby, another Sicilian opens a bakery for Italian-style breads, which Salvatore stocks in his shop as part of the lunchtime spread. Though Salvatore’s shop is popular, it’s also small, and some customers have to eat standing up. The traditional style is to have a plate with lots of separate items like cheese, salami, olives, bread, and more, because “Sicilians only ate one thing at a time.” But crowded people and small plates lead to a lot of spills, so Salvatore has a brilliant nontraditional idea: make an olive salad and pile it with salami, ham, and Swiss cheese onto a crusty Italian loaf. Unfortunately, customers complain that the resulting sandwich is too hard to chew until Salvatore has another great notion—use soft muffuletta bread instead. The dish is a huge hit and is still a New Orleans specialty. In her second children’s book, Saunders tells a lively story full of energetic exclamations like “Mamma Mia!” and “kurplunk!” The tale celebrates immigrant ingenuity and the birth of new traditions that still honor one’s roots. Salvatore’s accent could be considered stereotypical, as in “How abouta everything goes on to the breada?” But it’s in the context of respecting his achievements. The work includes recipes for olive salad and muffuletta bread as well as background information about Salvatore and how Saunders came to write the book. The author’s watercolor and ink illustrations, which depict a light-skinned cast, are amusing, gently colored, and sprightly.

An affectionate, mouthwatering tale. (bibliography)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-950169-32-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Spork

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2020

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