One of a rush of commemorations of Apollo 11’s semicentennial, but this is more about father-daughter intimacy than “One...

A child’s tribute to one of the thousands of blue-collar workers who have made the space program possible.

Though Dempsey looks back on family history in highlighting the small but significant contribution that her father and other workers in a South Carolina textile factory made by manufacturing one layer of spacesuit material, she holds off describing the technological feat or even placing it in historical context until her afterword. Instead, in all that comes before she mainly focuses on the admiration any child might feel for a hardworking dad. Thus, despite a climactic gathering before the TV to watch Walter Cronkite before Green cuts away to Neil Armstrong’s swaddled figure, there are no narrative details that bring either the times or specifics of work in the factory itself to life. When the child asks whether her father is proud to be part of a great endeavor he answers, “Only proud to make a living, Marthanne. Only proud to make a living.” Aside from dressing father and daughter in period clothing (when the latter isn’t visualizing herself floating in space), Green doesn’t do much to pick up the slack—one glimpse inside a factory furnished with vaguely drawn hand looms, an illegibly tiny labeled sketch of a spacesuit, and, later, a stack of old-time TVs as a tailpiece notwithstanding. Marthanne and her family are white; some group scenes include black background characters.

One of a rush of commemorations of Apollo 11’s semicentennial, but this is more about father-daughter intimacy than “One small step….” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3074-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019


Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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