Stepping out of the shadows: a gentle, persuasive #ownvoices take on a hitherto-untold perspective.

TEN LITTLE DUMPLINGS

A girl with 10 brothers claims her place in both the family narrative and the world at large.

Amid a pastoral Taiwanese setting, this picture book opens with a male-centered viewpoint touting the super specialness of a family blessed with 10 sons, whom their parents call “little dumplings,” because dumplings are “auspicious, / Bringing prosperity and success.” (Dumplings’ oval shape intentionally resembles yuanbao—gold or silver ingots that were real currency in imperial China for over two millennia, a fact not, alas, shared in the author’s note. The brothers’ similar sizes also conjure the “Ten Brothers” legend in Chinese popular culture, which is.) Seemingly larger than life, these 10 brothers lack individuality when portrayed as a unit, doing “everything together” and becoming “ten fine men”—a desirable outcome that nonetheless hints at an in-group mentality that can marginalize those who do not conform. Readers need to look closely to find the girl Wume cleverly hides in each double-page spread: She dons the iconic school-uniform hat and is part of the action even when obscured. Then the perspective shifts: First writing herself into the story by forming 女 (female) with a calligraphy brush, she eventually, deftly reframes the narrative to assert: “I was there too.… // I listened. // I studied. // I learned.” Eventually, she becomes a mother and celebrates her personal fortune for having a “wonderful girl”—her very own “little dumpling.”(This book was reviewed digitally.)

Stepping out of the shadows: a gentle, persuasive #ownvoices take on a hitherto-untold perspective. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6619-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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While the amusing scenario may prove to be more a nostalgia trip for adult readers than something today’s kids will...

OY FEH SO?

Weekly Sunday visits from their two aunts and one uncle are so disagreeable that three children take steps to alter the atmosphere through some harmlessly exaggerated imitation.

Each Sunday afternoon the family guests arrive, heavily plop themselves on the living room furniture, and make negative, complaining and resigned statements. “Oy,” says Aunt Essy. “Feh,” says Aunt Chanah. “So?” says Uncle Sam. “That was all they ever said!” Despite the children’s parents’ attempts to make pleasant conversation or the children’s enthusiastic play-acting performed for the guests, the reaction is always the same uncongenial three words. Ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict Essy, Chanah and Sam with unflattering caricatures of stereotypical adult Jewish characters, with clownishly large noses, slouchy, overweight bodies and unsmiling faces. In exasperation, the children each take a role and comically mimic their aunts’ and uncle’s behavior, forcing laughter and recognition. This mishpocheh now redeems itself with a newfound willingness to tell family stories and loving childhood memories; the palette here modulates from muted tones to bright, sunny colors.

While the amusing scenario may prove to be more a nostalgia trip for adult readers than something today’s kids will immediately recognize, they will appreciate the overall sentiment even if they miss the Yiddish essence. Nu? (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-148-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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