A warmly inclusive book for growing new readers.

THE GARDEN

From the Confetti Kids series

Diverse children work in a community garden.

In Hooks’ story, Lily, a brown-skinned girl with brown curls, says she misses her old suburban home’s garden, and her mother, whose appearance is similar, suggests that she help in the urban community garden near their new home. The ensuing story employs a controlled text and is broken up into short chapters that provide structure and will support feelings of accomplishment in emergent readers. Mr. Sam, who oversees the garden and appears Asian, welcomes her and encourages her to invite friends to help, too. Readers of previous books will recognize familiar names and faces: Henry, Mei, Pablo, and Padma, who are cued in the text or in Ng-Benitez’s appealing watercolor and digital illustrations as white, Asian, Latinx, and South Asian, respectively. Henry and Padma are initially reluctant, while Mei and Pablo are eager, but all agree to try. Mr. Sam shows them how to plant and care for seeds, and Padma is disappointed that it’ll take “months” for plants to grow. This makes Lily worry that her friends aren’t having fun, but, satisfyingly, they persist and are rewarded with literal fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. The visible enthusiasm of the tiny songbirds (underscored by their dialogue: little musical notes followed by exclamation marks) who watch the plants sprout adds sweet humor.

A warmly inclusive book for growing new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-565-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character

PEDRO, FIRST-GRADE HERO

From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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