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ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME

A celebration of identity, family and belonging.

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a very long name, and she’s about to find out how she came to have it.

Alma is a cute little girl with the sweetest pair of striped red-and-white pants ever. She also happens to have a very long name—so long, in fact, that it never fits. Her father sits her down to tell her the story of her name, “Then you decide if it fits.” And so Alma learns about her grandmother Sofia; her great-grandmother Esperanza; her grandfather José; her great-aunt Pura; and her other grandmother Candela. And Alma? She learns Alma was picked just for her. “You will make your own story.” Peruvian-born Martinez-Neal never expresses it in the text, but the illustrations are filled with references to Peru, the country where Alma’s family comes from. Mostly monochromatic against a cream background, the illustrations—print transfers with graphite and colored pencils—are delightful, capturing the distinctive essences of Alma’s many namesakes. Alma is depicted as the color of the paper background, with pink cheeks and a black bob haircut. Whereas the story starts with Alma’s name written in a childish print on a piece of paper that needs an extra piece of paper taped to it, the story ends with Alma’s name in grand and elegant display types. That’s her name, and it fits her just right! A Spanish edition, Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre, publishes simultaneously.

A celebration of identity, family and belonging. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9355-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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