On one of the hottest weeks of the summer in Caliente, Texas, best friends Elena and Alma open competing snow-cone stands across the street from each other. As business booms and wanes, the competition gets stronger, as do the sales pitches and incentives. Extravagant decorations, puppet shows and folk dancing in traditional costume cause ever more customers to crisscross the street, until both ice machines simultaneously malfunction, pouring out colored ice shavings until a slushy rainbow ribbon of the stuff tumbles down the street, encouraging everyone to “[cascade] down the dazzling icy mound” and leaving Elena and Alma to dissolve their rivalry and renew their friendship. The full-color paintings are mostly realistic, featuring appealing, if stiff, protagonists; the rainbow-colored snow-cone slide makes for a startling and unconvincing intrusion. Lacking the charm of Strega Nona and her magical spaghetti pot, this summery, bilingual story jars with the quick flight of fancy. While the themes of friendly rivalry and work-made-fun are worthwhile, the odd deus ex machina mystifies more than it delights. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55885-575-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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A stylish, retro addition to the seek-and-find genre.


From the Mr Tweed series

The indefatigable helper introduced in Mr Tweed’s Good Deeds (2014) continues his worthy work.

It seems that the jazz band Mr Tweed—a dapper dog sporting a monumentally tall top hat—has come to the zoo to hear has scattered about the grounds. So off he goes to spot (with readers’ help, natch) guitar player Pinky Jackson among a crowd of fellow flamingos, Mary Lou Lemur and her saxophone lurking in the dense Lost Forest, trombonist Otis O’Rangutan, and seven more animal performers in time for the show. Reminiscent of Peter Max’s psychedelic-era fancies for color, style, and surreal sensibility, Stoten’s busy but not overwhelming zoo scenes are thronged with a mix of clothed animals and human visitors of diverse age and skin color. The search concludes at last in the bustling gift shop (which doubles as a performance space), and the regathered band salutes Mr Tweed as he strolls off to, no doubt, more good deeds.

A stylish, retro addition to the seek-and-find genre. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-911171-29-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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As Maria shows, some things are worth fighting for.


Maria’s clothes always match the occasion as well as her accessories, but she’s about to “lose [her] matchy-matchy mind.”

The book’s beautiful, flowery cover foreshadows the world Maria lives in. In the living room Maria’s outfit blends in with the print of the comfy chair she’s sitting in. At school her laces, lunchbox, backpack, and even the barrettes holding back her black hair match. One comical two-page spread shows Maria’s flowery yellow underwear matching her dress. Maria’s problem here, though, is not the outfits: It’s her mom. “My mom picks out all of my clothes. She makes everyone…and everything match.” Maria longs to mix it up, and in her fight for the right to self-expression, she rebels, conceals, debates, and marches. Finally, Mom concedes, even wearing her own unmatchy outfit: “Polka dots and petunias!” By the end of the book, Maria exults that “this is me. Marvelous, unmatching, mix-it-up me!” McGill’s humorous illustrations mix patterns, textiles, and collage to great effect. Readers might want to pair this book with Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina, by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios (2011), for a look at another child who rejoices in her individuality. Maria and her mother have black hair and olive skin; her school friends have a variety of skin and hair colors.

As Maria shows, some things are worth fighting for. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-944903-72-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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