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A welcome addition that both subverts and pays tribute to Eurocentric nursery-rhyme tropes.

The matriarch of European nursery rhymes heads south.

This distinctive new collection imagines what 15 classic European lullabies and sung poems for children would sound like set in India. Here, “London Bridge” becomes “Tunga Bridge,” in reference to an old bridge in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka. “My Fair Lady” is now “My Fair Mahila,” the Hindi word for woman, and so on. Mother Goose is pictured on the cover playing a shehnai (Indian oboe). Although some of the updated verses feel a bit flat, the rhymes are fun to chant and introduce young children to basic Hindi, since each verse includes at least one word in the language. Readers will learn how to count from one to 10 in Hindi in “Ek, Do, Time To Go,” the Indian rendition of “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.” Pink’s memorable and colorful digital illustrations pay homage to Indian folk art and time-honored motifs—buildings with Mogul-style architecture are depicted, and characters wear traditional Indian clothing. The artwork also captures the sights and sounds of modern India, showing the country’s emblematic decorated trucks driving along modern-day highways. Glossaries conveniently placed at the bottom of each page provide definitions and pronunciations for the Hindi words included in each poem.

A welcome addition that both subverts and pays tribute to Eurocentric nursery-rhyme tropes. (Picture book/poetry. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3960-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival.

Riffing on the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,” this picture book explores Diwali celebrations in India.

The story opens, “One, two… // mehndi for you.” Mehndi is defined below the text, and a colorful illustration depicts people showing off the mehndi on their hands. Once the book reaches 10, it starts counting backward (“Ten, nine” / fireworks shine”), continuing the rhyming pattern. The text defines Hindi words such as rangoli (“colorful designs made on the floor or ground using chalk and flowers”), diya (traditional clay lamps), and jalebi (a sweet made from deep-frying dough) as well as potentially unfamiliar English words, such as rickshaw. While not all the words are directly related to Diwali, most are common vocabulary used in northern India, rendering the book a child-friendly introduction to South Asian Hindu culture. Lush illustrations in a joyful, vibrant palette convey the feelings of India’s festive season and feature characters with a variety of skin tones but mostly similar hair textures. While the authors’ note acknowledges India’s linguistic diversity—pointing out the holiday’s alternative spelling of Deepavali—it calls Diwali an “Indian” holiday when it is actually a Hindu holiday. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for accuracy.) 

An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5365-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason.

Nursery rhymes provide playful opportunities for a diverse classroom.

Readers familiar with Codell’s work may recognize that Chavarri models the teacher character after her in the colorful, digital illustrations. The teacher greets a multiracial group of children entering her nursery school classroom in frontmatter pages. And the text begins with a brief Q-and-A: “Circle time? Yes. Playing with friends? Yes. Indoor recess? NOOOOO!” The teacher holds up a Mother Goose book to entice her disappointed charges, who stand looking out at the rain in the last part of this exchange. The subsequent double-page spread doesn’t seem quite to follow, as it first shows the “Twinkle Twinkle” rhyme and then depicts a pajama-clad black child answering “Yes” to “Window?” “Star?” “Wish?” and “NOOOOO!” to “Space aliens?” But then a page turn delivers the equivocal verdict “Well, maybe” and shows the child cavorting in a fantastic outer-space scene with extraterrestrials, spaceships, and the cow jumping over the moon. (Is this indoor recess?) The Q-and-A pattern continues with other rhymes until the book’s end, when it returns to classroom, teacher, and children, who can now go outside to play since the rain, rain’s gone away.

While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4036-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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