This excellent take on modern, blended families melds a believable, resonant story arc and winsome, child-appealing...

WHEN OTIS COURTED MAMA

Coyote pup Cardell is perfectly happy with his parents. He lives in a cozy adobe cottage with his artist mom and visits his dad across the desert, sharing him with his stepmother and stepbrother.

When Otis comes a-courting his mother, Cardell is resentful. Mama has had other suitors, and she and Cardell had agreed on each gent’s flaws. Cardell presumes that Mama will similarly dispatch Otis and growls at the persistent suitor. Otis can’t make jalapeño pancakes like Cardell’s dad, and “his howl sounded like he had rocks in the back of his throat.” Otis does have his own talents, however, and he knows that Cardell is “one tough little hombre.” Gradually, he wins the pup over with his delicious prickly-pear pudding, exceptional pouncing skills and hilarious stories. “Cardell’s grrr…got softer and softer until it disappeared altogether.” By the time, a “few moons later,” Otis proposes to Mama, Cardell and he are aligned, awaiting her answer in matching 10-gallon hats. Appelt’s telling sparkles. She expertly foreshadows the realistic conflict between Cardell and Otis by depicting the young coyote’s secure relationships with both his parents. McElmurry’s delightful gouache paintings depict a stylized desert Southwest. These coyotes often walk upright; they paint, dance, make music and fully embrace life.

This excellent take on modern, blended families melds a believable, resonant story arc and winsome, child-appealing illustrations. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-15-2166885

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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