A SWEET PASSOVER

A week of eating matzah has one little girl ready to swear off the bland, unleavened cracker for good, until a sweet, time-honored staple slowly changes her mind.

Miriam observes Passover with parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle each consecutive day with different foods added to her matzah. She happily eats her unleavened bread with butter, jelly, tuna salad, egg salad, cream cheese, cottage cheese, almond and apple butter and jam. But after eating plain matzah, egg matzah, whole-wheat matzah and chocolate-covered matzah, Miriam awakens on the eighth day of the holiday completely “sick, sick, sick of matzah” and refuses to eat another bite. Perplexed and amused, Grandpa entices Miriam with the prospect of a breakfast of Passover French toast, otherwise known as matzah brei, a pancake-type creation from pieces of matzah soaked in egg and milk, pan-fried in butter and topped with sugar, cinnamon or maple syrup. Large amiable cartoon characters drawn in acrylic and charcoal portray a loving and cheerful family. They recount the Passover saga through Newman’s dialogue-driven text, into which she subtly weaves some interpretive messages for today. “Matzah goes with everything,” says Grandpa. “And that reminds us that we should get along with everyone, too.” Convinced Miriam completes the holiday with the sweetened meal she cooked with her culinary savvy Grandpa.

Deliciously traditional. (recipe, author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9737-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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