An uplifting celebration of family, community, and culture.

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FINDING THE MUSIC

EN BUSCA DE LA MÚSICA

Reyna’s abuelito was a mariachi musician, and today his prized vihuela, a small, high-pitched guitar, hangs in her family’s restaurant.

When Reyna accidentally breaks the vihuela, she knows Mamá will be crushed, as the instrument brings back joyful memories of her father. Reyna decides to take it upon herself to fix the instrument before her mother discovers what has happened, reaching out to several adults in the community to ask for help. Though no one is able to help her exactly as she wishes, each contributes a memento that brings the memory of Abuelito and his mariachi music to life. She returns with her grandfather’s sombrero, a photo of the mariachi band, and a record of their music. Mamá and Reyna revel in the memory of Abuelito as they share his music with restaurant diners. Lee and Low New Voices Award winner Torres makes a charming debut. The adults in Reyna’s neighborhood are as caring and helpful as Reyna is tenderhearted. The illustrations are equally joyful, presenting a bustling, colorful, and diverse neighborhood. Small details make each setting come alive, such as the Mexican imagery decorating the restaurant walls. Bright colors and warm faces create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.

An uplifting celebration of family, community, and culture. (author’s note) (Bilingual picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-89239-291-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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