A vibrant snapshot of modern Cuba, full of rich, sensory detail.

ALL THE WAY TO HAVANA

Off to Havana!

A boy is thrilled to visit his new cousin in the city, but another member of the family, the beautiful, blue antique car called Cara Cara, isn’t quite ready yet. (The importance of family and the fact that technology and money are in limited supply come together in the affection the boy holds for Cara Cara, the family heirloom that’s been inventively repaired over many years and will belong to the boy himself someday.) Finally, after the boy and his father tinker under the hood, they are off. Colorful, detailed illustrations and animated, evocative text, peppered with Spanish and full of the excitement of a journey, guide readers through their small Cuban town, over roadways, and past other vintage cars to the destination—a family celebration! Energetic descriptions engage virtually all of the senses and will draw in readers across gender, race—the characters are primarily brown-skinned, and the protagonist’s family is mixed-race, with a black father and pale-skinned mother—and nationality, while politics go unmentioned, as appropriate to the age of the audience. By focusing on the boy’s observations and experiences—clothing hanging on a line, the understanding that you’ll always give your neighbors a ride, the sights and sounds of old cars, the presence of crumbling balconies, the scent of the sea—Engle and Curato provide a child’s view of Cuba that is extremely accessible and as striking as it is unforgettable.

A vibrant snapshot of modern Cuba, full of rich, sensory detail. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-642-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Gorgeous, shimmering, heartfelt.

I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS

Anticipation, pregnancy, and the birth of a baby are celebrated in this story from Spillett-Sumner (Inniniwak) and Caldecott medalist Goade (Tlingit).

When a baby chooses its mother, special gatherings of family and community are held to prepare for the child’s arrival. Sacred items are collected and placed in a medicine bundle to be given to the baby at birth. These items will keep the growing child’s connection to their identity strong. Spillett-Sumner’s lyrical text begins as an Indigenous mother plans the journey with her unborn child. “Before I held you in my arms, I sang you down from the stars.” When she finds a white eagle plume, it becomes “the first gift in a bundle that will be yours.” The young mother finds more items for her child’s bundle: cedar, sage, a “star blanket,” and a special river stone “so that you always remember that you belong to this place.” The baby arrives in the spring, “with the waters that come when the ice breaks and the rivers flow again.” Goade uses a white “swoosh” of stars throughout the illustrations to intertwine traditional origin stories with a family’s experience of “love and joy” upon the arrival of the new baby, in scenes that pulse with both emotions. Author and illustrator each contribute a note describing how they drew upon their respective cultural traditions to inform their work, which will open the book up to a wide range of readers.

Gorgeous, shimmering, heartfelt. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49316-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more