The disparate visual and textual mélange of misinformation renders this well-intended but off-the-mark title skippable.

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JUAN'S SWEET AND SPICY MEMORY

In this child’s introduction to Mexico, Juan prepares for the Cinco de Mayo festivities in his town.

A family of non–Spanish-speaking white tourists arrives, saying, “Taco? Taco?” Juan correctly guesses that they want—wait for it—tacos! As Juan shows the tourist family around, Yoon proceeds to provide facts about the Mexican culture, people, and food. Unfortunately, much of this information is either inaccurate or misleading. She claims that salsa is ground chili pepper “mixed with bell peppers, vinegar, and sugar” and asserts that Mexicans eat Tex-Mex food such as “chip-like nachos.” The simplistic declaration that the Aztecs “are the ancestors of the Mexican people,” when there were many different civilizations far older than the Aztecs such as the Olmecs, Zapotecs, and Maya, is worthy of a grade school report. The text’s awkward English phrasing also disrupts the narrative: “Juan, look at all those valuable corn.” Corr’s bright, primitive illustrations are colorful and lively but likewise misleading. Even taking into account artistic license, there is nothing to account for the anomalous placement of the Yucatán Peninsula’s Chichen Itzá and the central Mexican volcano Popocatepetl in the same landscape as the maguey plants of Tequila, Jalisco. Spanish flamenco dancers incongruously fill the Mexican plaza, and the male characters’ clothing and facial features are from all over the Caribbean, Latin America, and beyond.

The disparate visual and textual mélange of misinformation renders this well-intended but off-the-mark title skippable. (further information) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939248-12-1

Page Count: 38

Publisher: TanTan

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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