HOME FOR NAVIDAD

Cohen’s reds, greens, and blues practically glow, and the sharp black outlines that he lays on them, particularly to highlight the human characters, recall both children’s drawings and the winning nonchalance of Ludwig Bemelmans. Add Ziefert’s tender, deliberately paced tale of a young Mexican girl’s longing for her mother, now three years in the US earning money as a housecleaner, and the result is a beautiful new addition to the shelf of multicultural Christmas stories. While Rosa’s daily life—picking corn with Tio Pancho, washing clothes in the river with Abuela—is harsher than that of most American children, Ziefert’s mood is nostalgic and upbeat, less disturbing to youngsters than Francisco Jimenez’s more intense and moving The Christmas Gift / El regalo de Navidad (2000). The accepted sadness of the family separation, the excitement of receiving a letter from her mother, even the math lesson requiring Rosa’s class to calculate how many weeks a man will need to save for a plane ticket—again suggesting broken families—combine to make Rosa’s longing very real. Children will strongly identify with her dream, at the end of the long day, of her mother wrapping her in her arms on Christmas day. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-34976-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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Still, this may be just the ticket for harried moms who want to point out all they do for their kids and get a little help...

HOW TO RAISE A MOM

From the How To... series

Mothers finally get their due from Reagan and Wildish, who instruct readers on how to raise a happy and healthy mom.

A white brother-and-sister pair are readers’ guides, and the day starts with how to wake Mom up: let her sleep in a little, kiss her, and serve breakfast in bed (in Wildish’s humorous digital illustrations, whole fruits—including a pineapple and a lime—a box of popcorn, and juice). The kids ready Mom for the day by dressing her (!) and piling everything necessary at the door. Stuck in a long line at the store? If a surprise treat and acting silly fail, just say, “Thank you so much, Sweet Pea, for being so patient.” The day continues with time for work, outside play, and relaxing, followed by some tips about eating vegetables and bedtime routines. While many of the pages are laugh-out-loud funny, this misses the mark in terms of consistency, sometimes prodding kids to do nice things (breakfast in bed, tidy up for her), sometimes reversing the parent and child roles (the hilarious scene in the store), and other times just showing what moms regularly do anyway (playing outdoors, sitting and chatting with another mom on a “playdate”).

Still, this may be just the ticket for harried moms who want to point out all they do for their kids and get a little help in return—sly fun in other words. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-53829-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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