A serviceable outing for an unusual young hero.

ESTEBAN DE LUNA, BABY RESCUER! / ESTEBAN DE LUNA, RESCATADOR DE BEBÉS!

What good is a cape when you have no superpowers?

Esteban loves his long green cape. Whether he’s out shopping at the market with his mom and little sister, at the doctor’s office, or climbing into bed, the would-be superhero is always wearing his cape. “But there is one problem: his cape cannot do ANYTHING.” Esteban can’t fly with it or use it for magic tricks. Fed up, he even tries to sell the cape, but nobody buys it. One day at the park Esteban spots an abandoned baby doll on the playground. When a rainstorm unexpectedly rolls in, threatening to drench the deserted toy, he knows just what to do. “ ‘Don’t worry, baby!’ he says. ‘I’ll save you!’ ” Though the occasionally stilted text might pull some readers out of the story, Mercado-López (a professor of women’s studies at Fresno State) freshens an at-first familiar narrative with an unexpected resolution. Determined to protect the doll, Esteban uses his cape to care for it and keep it clean, a rejection of both superhero stereotype and gender norms that is unquestioned in his loving Latino family. DeLange’s colorful, flat illustrations vary very little in energy, barely stirring beyond pleasant. (Esteban and his family are all featured with light brown skin.) Both English text and Baeza Ventura’s Spanish translation reside on the left-hand pages, while the illustrations take up the right-hand pages.

A serviceable outing for an unusual young hero. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55885-847-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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