Though it could easily feel preachy, this charmingly subversive tale instead offers a simple yet powerful story of the...

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JULIÁN IS A MERMAID

Julián knows he’s a mermaid.

On the el with his abuela, Afro-Latinx Julián looks on, entranced, as three mermaids enter their car. Instantly enamored, Julián imagines himself a mermaid. In a sequence of wordless double-page spreads, the watercolor, gouache, and ink art—perfect for this watercentric tale—depicts adorable Julián’s progression from human to mermaid: reading his book on the el with water rushing in, then swimming in that water and freeing himself from the constraints of human clothing as his hair grows longer (never losing its texture). When Julián discovers he has a mermaid tail, his charming expressions make his surprise and delight palpable. At home, Julián tells Abuela that he, too, is a mermaid; Abuela admonishes him to “be good” while she takes a bath. A loose interpretation of being “good” could include what happens next as Julián decides to act out his “good idea”: He sheds his clothes (all except undies), ties fern fronds and flowers to his headband, puts on lipstick, and fashions gauzy, flowing curtains into a mermaid tail. When Abuela emerges with a disapproving look, readers may think Julián is in trouble—but a twist allows for a story of recognition and approval of his gender nonconformity. Refreshingly, Spanish words aren’t italicized.

Though it could easily feel preachy, this charmingly subversive tale instead offers a simple yet powerful story of the importance of being seen and affirmed. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9045-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A lesson in diversity and making people welcome that starts kids off on the right foot in these rough, divided times.

CLICK, CLACK, MOO I LOVE YOU!

A little diversity goes a long way toward getting the party started in this latest farm tale from Cronin and Lewis.

While Farmer Brown is busy fixing up the farmyard, mucking out the pigpen, giving hay to the donkey, and mending fences, Little Duck is just as busy spiffing up the barn for a dance, hanging streamers and lights and balloons and cutting out hearts to make valentines for all her guests (glitter festoons the book). That evening, Little Duck and her guests are great examples of host and guests; she greets everyone individually with a valentine, and they give her food for the party. (Except the cows; they are at a fancy ball.) Music gets the dancing started, but not the mingling—at least until one last, late arrival. Will Little Fox add to the party or eat the party? Little Duck isn’t daunted. She hands her last card to Little Fox, and they cut a rug, inspiring the rest of the guests to mingle freely until the cows (literally) come home. Lewin’s characters are a delight, their facial expressions bringing life to this party. And the mice doing the hustle? They are worth the price of admission all by themselves.

A lesson in diversity and making people welcome that starts kids off on the right foot in these rough, divided times. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4496-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff.

THE LITTLEST EASTER BUNNY

From the Littlest series

The smallest bunny in Easter Town finds that she and her little chick friend are big enough to help the Easter Bunny prepare for the annual Easter egg hunt.

In the fifth entry in the Littlest series, Penny the bunny wants to help get ready for Easter. All the rabbits in her family are busy with their special jobs, getting eggs, candy, and baskets in order, but little Penny seems too small or clumsy to be of any help. Her parents and siblings try to let her assist them, but she falls into a vat of dye, spills marshmallow goo, gets tangled in the strands of a basket, and fails to fill even one Easter basket. Feeling dejected, Penny befriends a tiny chick named Peck. With the help of Penny’s family, Penny and Peck make miniature treats and petite baskets suitable to their own size. When the Easter Bunny’s main helpers fall ill, Penny and Peck convince the Easter Bunny that their small size will help them do the best job of finding spots to hide eggs as well as their own tiny basket creations. This too-pat conclusion doesn’t quite hold up to logical analysis, as the full-size eggs and baskets are still too large for Penny and Peck to handle. Bland cartoon illustrations are filled with bunnies in candy-bright pastels with a greeting-card cuteness quotient.

Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-32912-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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