Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place.

ERNESTINE'S MILKY WAY

Ernestine lives on a farm in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Her father is away in “the war” (identified in an author’s note as World War II), and her mother is expecting twins very soon. Ernestine’s days are filled with chores, and at night there is warm milk and comfort in Mama’s assurance that Daddy is looking up and seeing the same stars they are viewing. When Mama assigns her the task of bringing two large mason jars of milk to a neighbor family, she is ready for the task. As she makes the trek she hears scary sounds and imagines dangerous animals lying in wait. She reassures herself by shouting her mantra, “I’m five years old and a big girl,” and each time discovers only small, benign creatures instead of fierce beasts. She drops one milk jar, which rolls away, but arrives safely at the neighbor’s home with the remaining one. The lost milk jar is found, containing a delightful surprise, and a joyous breakfast ensues. The author employs lovely lilting language to describe the rural setting. Descriptors of the path’s vagaries are repeated as Ernestine makes her way, taking readers along with her through the “valley of doghobble and devil’s walking stick.” Sutton’s brightly hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations effortlessly convey the time period, setting, and events, and they express Ernestine’s every emotion.

Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1484-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.

BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR

A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own.

In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy’s text describes what “Black is” physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as “the braids in my best friend’s hair,” to the conceptual: “Black is soft-singing, ‘Hush now, don’t explain’ ”—a reference to the song “Don’t Explain” made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, and “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-631-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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