The series continues to present appealing and likable characters gently exploring the moral dilemmas of childhood.

DON'T FEED THE GECKOS!

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 3

Bernardo, Carlos’ cousin whom he hasn’t seen in years, is temporarily moving in with Carlos and his family.

As in the prior two installments of the series, this title features an elementary-age, male protagonist of color. Carlos has recently discovered his love of animals. He’s motivated to work hard in school, and he keeps pets that help him learn more about animal behavior, including his prized geckos. Carlos doesn’t know much about Bernardo, just that he has had what is vaguely defined as a “hard year.” When Bernardo arrives, Carlos isn’t sure what to think. He finds himself sharing his room, his class, his soccer team—everything—with Bernardo. He wants to make Bernardo feel welcome but grows increasingly frustrated with his cousin’s sneaky and aggressive behavior. Appropriately, given the tight focus on Carlos’ perspective, the book doesn’t focus on the details of Bernardo’s challenges but rather on the ways in which he acts out, at times behaving as a bit of a bully. Eventually the tension boils over into a confrontation, followed by a somewhat rushed resolution and a lesson about empathy. Many independent readers, particularly boys, will identify with these characters and their struggles.

The series continues to present appealing and likable characters gently exploring the moral dilemmas of childhood. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-57529-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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ENEMY PIE

Bland pictures and superficial presentation sink this problem-solver. Feeling slighted by new neighbor Jeremy, the aggrieved young narrator accepts his father’s offer to make an “enemy pie.” Dad insists on doing the baking, but tells the lad that the recipe also requires spending a day playing with the enemy—after which, predictably, the two lads sit down as newly minted friends for pie à la mode. Though the narrator speculates about the pie’s ingredients, the promisingly gross worm-and-weed dishes on the cover never materialize in the illustrations inside, nor are any of Jeremy’s supposed offenses depicted. Instead, King shows the boys in a series of conventional, static scenes, throwing water balloons at girls and other fun activities. Meanwhile, Dad’s fixed, knowing smile invites viewers to share the conceit—even though his naïve son never does catch on. And is Jeremy really so hostile? He displays so little individual character that it’s hard to get a read on him; he just seems to be going with the flow. Invite readers to order up a bowl of Betsy Everitt’s Mean Soup (1992) instead, or a slice of Margie Palatini’s Piggie Pie (1995). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8118-2778-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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