Falters in both writing and perspective.

SUNAKALI

THE "MESSI OF THE HIMALAYAS"

In the village of Mugu in Nepal, Sunakali Budha’s poor family holds traditional views about gender.

At home, Sunakali and her girlfriends are required to cook, clean, and do laundry. In fact, they have so many responsibilities that none of them are in school any longer. While they graze the family goats—another one of their duties—the girls play soccer with a ball donated to their village. Suddenly, a male coach arrives in Mugu and offers to form the girls into a soccer team. The girls’ parents are unsure at first, but the village chief convinces them to give the coach a chance. Eventually, the girls compete in tournaments across Nepal, winning game after game. Sunakali becomes so famous that she moves to Kathmandu, where she enrolls in a training school for soccer players. Her father, initially wary of Sunakali’s talents, begins to support her dream to go pro. The book’s text can be difficult to follow, particularly in the first few pages, in which the perspective switches abruptly from first to third person and bobbles between past and present tense. The illustrations accurately portray rural and urban Nepal, but their cartoony quality at times detracts from the gravity of the story. Particularly in the first third of the story, the author emphasizes Mugu’s poverty and gender inequality rather than the girls’ athletic experiences and talents. Although this book is based on real events and people, there is no backmatter or sourcing to provide additional context or authority. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.6-by-18.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 47.5% of actual size.)

Falters in both writing and perspective. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7377-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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