Illuminates the significance of the humble plátano with delicious detail.

Good stories and mouthwatering food go hand in hand in this heartwarming tale about a Dominican family.

Yesenia, a child with brown skin and curly brown hair, helps Mami prepare food in the kitchen and asks, “Why do Dominicans love plátanos so much?” Mami explains that plátanos, also called plantains, help their family feel connected to their homeland and to each other. Yesenia points out that “plátanos are like a love letter from the Dominican Republic,” where Mami lived before Yesenia was born. Yesenia describes the different plátano-based dishes, both sweet and savory, that the family enjoys together. From maduros to tostones to mangú, Yesenia takes readers on a sensory and culinary journey, describing the feelings that these foods elicit. Yesenia recalls feeling comforted by a sweet plátano treat after a misstep at school. Older brother Kendry insists that plátanos are responsible for baseball successes by his favorite Dominican players. And plátanos make Yesenia think of the love poems Papi recites to Mami. Narrated by Yesenia in the first person, the text brims with child appeal. Bright, inviting illustrations welcome readers into the warm embrace of family and food. The back cover of the book includes a tasty recipe for mangú de plátano (mashed plantains) so that readers can enjoy their own plátanos. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Illuminates the significance of the humble plátano with delicious detail. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-306751-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022


A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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