I DREAM OF POPO

#Ownvoices tributes to childhood memories of home: It is as much an emotional space as a physical place.

A picture book centering a young emigrant’s journey as well as her homecoming.

Unlike conventional or traditional narratives that launch immigrant characters on one-way passages and their accompanying plots along linear trajectories, this focused family story illustrates modern migration by choice as an evolving tale of round trips through conscious reconnections with one’s origins. The young protagonist moves from Taiwan to San Diego and learns English at school while staying connected with Popo, the grandmother who stayed in Taiwan, via video chats. As time passes, linguistic barriers blur along with ongoing transitions between cultures and geographies: A once-fluent vernacular recedes to accommodate new sounds and expressions until the child even dreams of Popo speaking English. Sympathetic, gentle treatments of aging and illness convey life’s inevitabilities with a loving imagination steeped in the scent of sweet osmanthus. Faithful representations of Chinese-language signage, street scenes, and cityscapes evoke nostalgia for those familiar with Taiwan and its vibrant food culture. Whimsical depictions of Chinese New Year at home and Popo’s kitchen are authentic, down to the accurate details on a calendar, dumpling making from scratch, and the iconic rice cooker. Readers will connect with this visual story on various levels or learn something new; possibly both. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

#Ownvoices tributes to childhood memories of home: It is as much an emotional space as a physical place. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-24931-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

THE BIG CHEESE

From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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