A gorgeous story about the love of one’s homeland and the courage it takes to emigrate.

ANITA AND THE DRAGONS

A young Dominican girl grapples with emigrating from her homeland.

Anita has long watched the “dragons” fly “high above.” Though they roar and shake, Anita, being a “valiant princesa,” doesn’t fear them. But today a dragon will carry Anita and her mother and father and brothers from their island to a “distant land far, far away from the Dominican Republic.” Lyrical prose accompanied by lovely illustrations that have the look of pastels and collage describes Anita’s fears about what’s to come as well as her anxiety about what she’ll miss about her beloved homeland. The knowledge that hot baths, conveniences, and new experiences await her doesn’t dull the ache that comes from leaving her beautiful life on her island and special people like her abuela. But like the brave princesa she is, Anita eventually “hold[s her] chin high” and meets the dragon, and with it her new life—promising her island “with mango-sweet kisses; black stormy nights; glassy, blue waves; spicy, hot heat; and sandy, snug hugs” that she will return. The art, often pastel hued, adds wonderful texture to the gorgeous text and portrays Anita with dark-brown skin, a trait shared with the majority of the other characters. The unfortunate choice to italicize the majority of the few Spanish words persists throughout.

A gorgeous story about the love of one’s homeland and the courage it takes to emigrate. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-911373-63-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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