Food is an intergenerational bond, and this sensitive portrayal gets it just right.

FRENCH TOAST SUNDAYS

Loving memories help a young girl mourn the death of her grandmother.

Mina and her grandmother have always shared a special time on Sunday mornings. Together they prepare French toast using a recipe that consists of “a pinch of this. Not quite right. A shake of that. Mmm, just right.” With the delicious food on her plate, Mina climbs a tree to eat, and Grandma sits at a table nearby. Then, one Sunday, everything is different as family and friends gather. There’s boiled eggs to eat and a candle burning on the windowsill. Unstated in the text, the white Jewish family is sitting shiva—observing a seven-day period of mourning. Mina does not want to join them; she climbs up her tree. More food comes and more memories are shared as Mina inches down the tree and watches through the window. Overhearing the relatives talk about Grandma’s cooking moves Mina to action. It seems that Grandma’s one culinary skill was in preparing French toast, and only Mina knows how to make it. Softly textured illustrations help to convey the tender mood of the story. For many families, the death of a grandparent is observed with both religious and secular customs, and all should find a note of reassurance and comfort here.

Food is an intergenerational bond, and this sensitive portrayal gets it just right. (note to families) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68115-529-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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