Simply inspiring.

When rent increases and eviction notices threaten her barrio, 9-year-old Alejandria organizes her family and friends to fight back.

It’s the start of summer vacation. Walking alongside her abuela Tita in the barrio, Ale comes across a for-sale sign. “There’s a new one every other day,” says Ms. Beatrice from the bakery. The following day Ale sees Julian and his family packing up to move out of their apartment. “My dad said the landlords raised the rent, so we can’t stay here anymore,” says Julian. Then Mami receives a letter with big words like RENT and INCREASE and 30 DAYS. Worried and unable to sleep, Ale recalls Tita’s stories of bravery from Nicaragua and wonders if she can find the strength to push back. With a little encouragement from Tita and Mami, a little research on tenants’ rights, and a little direction from a grassroots group, Ale leads her family, neighbors, and friends to city hall, where the young activist finds her voice to save her barrio. Featuring a racially and ethnically diverse cast of characters, parallel Spanish and English texts, and scrappy, lively artwork, this delightful guide to beginner’s activism hits all the fuerte notes. At the center of Ale’s tale stands an intergenerational trio of mothers and daughters of color—Tita, Mami, and Ale—a clear, vivid testament to the power of community and family.

Simply inspiring. (glossaries) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-55861-704-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the Questioneers series

A much-needed reminder that kindness will always win out.

Teachers influence children profoundly.

From earliest childhood, Lila Greer, the youngest of five in a single-dad household, has been a worrier. Then the family moves. Entering second grade feels overwhelming: Nothing’s familiar, and she has no friends. But Ms. Kern, Lila’s new teacher, invites Lila to erase the chalkboard at recess and to articulate her fears. It helps that someone listens. Soon, classmates get into the act, and lonely Lila makes friends, emerges from her shell, and learns that “what ifs” have positive sides. Lila grows up, still fretting sometimes, and then becomes a new teacher who worries upon meeting her own students. But then she remembers the teacher who helped her overcome her fears and doubts years earlier. What was that marvelous, ineffable quality Ms. Kern possessed? Then Lila remembers: It was kindness! Harnessing that memory, Lila now welcomes her own “smiling young faces.” This is a sweet story that emphasizes good cheer, helpfulness, and the importance of feeling welcome and heard, no matter who you are: terrific messages, expressed in bouncy verses that scan well. The illustrations are colorfully lively. Readers will appreciate occasional displays of humorous and quirky typesetting creativity and will admire Lila’s poufy topknot, which resembles a huge ball of yarn. Lila is light-skinned, Ms. Kern is tan-skinned, and other characters are diverse.

A much-needed reminder that kindness will always win out. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781419769047

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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