A joyful celebration of Cuban tradition and family ties.

A SONG OF FRUTAS

A young Cuban American child visits Abuelo in Cuba and helps him sell fruit in the street.

As Abuelo pushes a cart laden with fruit, they sing out the names of the fruit in the cart: “mango, limón, coco, melón, / naranja, toronja, plátano, piña.” Their happy voices reach far, inviting people to come and purchase. Other street vendors join in, singing out their own wares. The louder they call out, the louder Abuelo must sing. Palacios’ vibrant illustrations beautifully capture the joy and liveliness of the event. The child tells readers, “my favorite visits…are on the eve of el año nuevo” when people buy 12 grapes and make a wish, one for each month of the new year. This child’s wish, reflecting the author’s own leitmotif, is for friendship between the two countries and a time when families on both sides of the narrow strip of ocean that separates them can freely visit. In the author’s note, Engle gives some details on the travel restrictions that keep families apart as well as explaining her choice to use Spanglish in the text. Readers also learn a little more about Cuban street vendors—pregoneros—and the tradition of having grapes on New Year’s Eve. The main character has exuberant wavy black hair and brown skin like Abuelo’s; other characters reflect Cuba’s racial diversity. The story publishes simultaneously in Spanish, with a translation by Alexis Romay. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A joyful celebration of Cuban tradition and family ties. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4489-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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