Eccentric aunts Jane, Lizzie, and Alice star in Stewig’s (Mother Holly, 2001, etc.) memoir-ish account of a boy’s summer sojourn to the country. “Now, Jackie, just think before you do anything,” his mother says as they drive through the cornfields. “You know the aunts sometimes do things differently than we do.” The next day, Jack sets about his usual tasks of fetching eggs from the hen house and watering the plants. But when the aunts decide to make plum jam, Jackie sees the truth of his mother’s words. O’Malley’s (Dinosaur Deals, 2001, etc.) full-bleed spread, which appears to be rendered in colored pencil, shows the foursome packed into the car on their way to Farmer Wilson’s land. On the next spread, they gleefully pick plums off the farmer’s tree while the angry farmer angrily approaches. A vignette of the foot-stomping farmer varies the pacing on the next spread; on the opposite page, the getaway car, shown from the rear, leaves a trail of dust and purple fruit. Stewig draws the story to a close with an act of redemption. Unable to sleep that night, Jackie sneaks out of bed and leaves a basket of jam in Farmer Wilson’s mailbox with a note that says “Thank You.” It makes for better neighborly relations—a few days later Farmer Wilson returns the gesture. “Thought you might like to eat some fresh,” reads the note tucked inside a basket of fruit. Young readers will likely recall stories of their own after hearing this expressive tale. A good choice to inspire storytelling sessions and children’s own writing. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0460-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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