A tidy showcase for Lo Monaco, with at least some potential for return visits.

THE SMALL WORLD OF PAPER TOYS

A cavalcade of diminutive, neatly designed pop-ups evokes toys of yesteryear.

Each of the 10 moderately antique playthings, which range from a gas station to a doll in a wheeled cradle, takes center stage in a minimally detailed setting printed on stiff paper stock and designed to open to a right angle. Some figures recur, such as a toy sailor who poses next to a sailboat and again on the trailer bed of a big truck, but mostly the tableaux stand alone: there’s an elephant on a wheeled platform, a firetruck, and a tractor hauling a sow dubbed “Stendahl” on a cart. Two loggers pull a saw back and forth a half inch or so in the only construction with a moving element. Along with sound effects, a child narrator seen just once and notable more for her enthusiasm than for natural language offers short scenarios—the sailor above is “an exceptional load!” for instance, and the “mechanical boat” sparks a planned outing: “On Thursday, I will go to the pond with mom and see it navigate.” The perspective pulls back for a capping bedroom scene featuring an open wardrobe and toys scattered on the floor. “What a mess. I took everything out to play! I’ll clean up my room tomorrow. Good night, my toys.”

A tidy showcase for Lo Monaco, with at least some potential for return visits. (Pop-up picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-3-89955-746-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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