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A PIECE OF HOME

Immigrant children will relate to the head-spinning switch from ordinary to different, and their classmates might better...

Moving from Korea to West Virginia, a young boy leaves the familiar behind.

Watts begins this immigration story with Hee Jun describing his remarkable grandmother, who had sparkling eyes. “My grandmother could find the extraordinary held within the ordinary.” She coaxes the national tree of Korea, called the mugunghwa, to flower, revealing delicate blossoms with bright red centers. Readers are shown Hee Jun’s life back home, where he is ordinary. “A regular boy, playing and laughing and bossing my little sister.” Life seems easy and commonplace. With the announcement of the move, the little boy swings from a carefree outlook to concern and frustration. The narration clearly describes his irritation with the language barrier, while the illustrations show Korean Hangul lettering in his dialogue bubbles. Emotions show clearly in Hee Jun’s moon-shaped face as round-eyed classmates stare and the teacher speaks loudly to him. This tangible emotional struggle extends to others in the family as well. His little sister acts out, and grandmother loses her sparkle. But slowly, over time, the family adjusts to the new world, with Hee Jun teaching his grandmother the English name for mugunghwa. Watts’ clear storytelling successfully conveys Hee Jun’s emotional journey to readers, and Yum’s emotive illustrations sensitively complement the text.

Immigrant children will relate to the head-spinning switch from ordinary to different, and their classmates might better understand the emotional impact of moving to a foreign land. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6971-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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