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An au courant portrayal of a transnational childhood.

A child and her grandmother connect across the miles through food and fellowship.

Kylie is anxious as she departs San Francisco for Taipei to visit Amah, whom she doesn’t often visit. In Taipei, Kylie negotiates unfamiliar situations, including a banquet replete with “steaming food” and many aunts, uncles, and cousins (“actual…or not?”). Kylie remains hesitant and keeps her physical and emotional distance while her mother and Amah play in the park and drag her through a night market. Kylie’s attitude shifts midway through the story when she decides to give the hot springs a try and discovers she loves them. As a result, Kylie enthusiastically explores her environment, transforming into the leader of their expeditions. The verbal and visual narratives here mirror the first half of the story with changes in context: Kylie now embraces, for instance, the "Chinese donuts,” which resemble savory churros. The backmatter contains biographical anecdotes from the author and the illustrator, information about some of Taipei’s tourist attractions, and a note about popular foods in Taiwan and their symbolism in Chinese traditional culture. These descriptions, both from women with Taiwanese grandmothers, reflect the diverse cultural makeup of Taiwan’s population as it has shifted during the last two centuries. The Chinese-language phrases—shown in traditional characters as if composed by a child’s hand, minor errors and all—comprise another distinguishing feature in centering the experiences of the diaspora.

An au courant portrayal of a transnational childhood. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0721-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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