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Sweetly entertaining.

Alice Atherton, a fictional 10-year-old, visits real-life American expatriates Sara and Gerald Murphy in Antibes—and meets luminaries such as Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.

Simple yet elegant text immediately sets the time and place: New York, 1927. Stuck in the stuffy parlor, Alice fantasizes about playing outside in the snow instead of listening to boring Old Miss Pennyweather. When she starts to drift off, the governess becomes worried and hustles her to bed. After a visit from the family doctor, Alice’s father agrees that she is suffering due to her mother’s recent death. His solution: send Alice and Miss Pennyweather to France to stay with his friends the Murphys; there, Alice will acquire “the art of living fully.” Miss Pennyweather, a rigid and easily scandalized stock character, presents plenty of humorous diversion on the ocean voyage and subsequent travels, returning home almost immediately after arriving at the unconventional Murphy household. Alice, on the other hand, is delighted to stay. In no time, she’s running about barefoot, riding donkeys with the Murphy children, and, indeed, learning valuable life lessons. Occasionally, the text references Alice’s grieving process, but mostly the story revolves around a fast-paced, humorous series of adventures, including a treasure hunt instigated by Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. Uplifting though didactic messages about overcoming loss and finding oneself are woven through tantalizing bits of period artifacts, history, and biography. Characters are cued white.

Sweetly entertaining. (author’s note, afterword, biographies of the real-life people mentioned, photographs) (Historical fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780553536812

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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From the Zara's Rules series , Vol. 1

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel.

A 10 ¾-year-old girl weathers changes in her social circle—and her sense of self.

Dubbed “Queen of the Neighborhood” by beloved neighbor Mr. Chapman, who has sadly left Maryland for balmy Florida, Zara is apprehensive when a family with two kids moves into his house, potentially upsetting the delicate social balance. Readers familiar with Khan’s Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream books, set a few years after this series opener, will recognize the bustling Pakistani American Muslim household. Assertive, organized Zara and rambunctious 7-year-old Zayd live with their Mama and Baba; the siblings’ grandparents and uncle are integral parts of their daily lives. Zara and Zayd enjoy playing outside with their friends—Black sisters Jade and Gloria, White Alan, and Chinese American Melvin. Mr. Chapman always said that Zara knew how to “rule with grace and fairness,” but new arrivals Naomi and Michael, Jewish kids who are eager to engage socially, put this to the test. When Jamal Mamoo, Mama’s brother, brings over his Guinness World Records book, Zara decides that becoming a world-record holder is the boost her social status needs. Her humorous (and futile) attempts to make her mark ultimately lead her to being a more patient and understanding big sister and more flexible and supportive companion to friends old and new. Strong pacing, fluid prose, engaging hijinks, and heartwarming scenes of family life and outdoor play are complemented by expressive illustrations.

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9759-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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