An easy, enjoyable way to start thinking about similarities and differences around the world.

BIRTHDAYS AROUND THE WORLD

Many American children know about piñatas at birthday celebrations, and almost all of them know about blowing out candles, but do they know that dumping flour on the birthday child is a tradition in Jamaica?

Each of the 14 double-page spreads in this informational roundup is devoted to a different country, among them Peru, Latvia, Lesotho, Cambodia, and Australia. The birthday child or a sibling describes the celebratory customs for an individual birthday or other special occasions such as Shichi-Go-San in Japan, when specific age groups (3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds) are honored. In Lesotho, where the idea of celebrating individual birthdays is not widespread, a boy describes the festivities that take place on July 17, when “our entire country celebrates the birthday of our beloved King!!” Hindu birthday celebrations in India start with a religious ceremony and continue with school parties. Klingeris, a sweet, pretzel-shaped bread, is prepared in Latvia, and the birthday child is lifted on a flower-bedecked chair. The short, simple explanations are accompanied by cheerful, stylized illustrations created with cut-paper collages and Photoshop. “Happy Birthday” in each language (in Latin script) appears in each section, with pronunciation and the original script in the glossary. The concluding guide to extension activities mentions that links to birthday-song videos from around the world are provided on the author’s website.

An easy, enjoyable way to start thinking about similarities and differences around the world. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-624-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Tidings of comfort and joy laid on with a trowel but not much regard for texts or traditions.

A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

STORIES, SONGS, AND REFLECTIONS FOR THE ADVENT SEASON

From the Jesus Storybook Bible series

A version of the Nativity story with 10 narrative or musical sound clips followed by abbreviated Bible stories and devotional thoughts for each day of Advent.

Drawn from Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible (2007) with some anonymous interstitial text, the stories begin with a young girl “minding her own business” until Gabriel drops in to give her the heads-up: “He’s the One! He’s the Rescuer!” In Jago’s harmonious, cleanly drawn cartoon illustrations, most of the human characters have brown skin in a variety of shades, including (eventually) a brown-skinned baby Jesus, whose head is topped with tight, black curls. The familiar tale continues up to the appearance of “three clever men” from the East (one cued as East Asian with stereotypical Fu Manchu facial hair) in Bethlehem. It is punctuated with pressure-sensitive spots that each activate 15 to 20 seconds of either a well-known Christmas hymn or a reading by David Suchet in a plummy British accent. Twenty-four shorter daily episodes, mostly Old Testament passages with the gory bits left out, follow to offer (purported) prefigurations of God’s “Secret Rescue Plan” as revealed in the New. These range from a massacre-free version of Joshua’s entry into Jericho and (wait for it) “Daniel and the Scary Sleepover” to the parting of the Red Sea, which is incorrectly identified as the origin of Passover.

Tidings of comfort and joy laid on with a trowel but not much regard for texts or traditions. (Novelty/religion. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-310-76990-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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An inclusive, secular-leaning panorama with a simple but clever visual gimmick.

HOLIDAYS & CELEBRATIONS

From the Shine-a-Light series

The focus is on food and fun in this yearly round of international holidays.

Beginning with Lunar New Year—properly designated an Asian celebration rather than just Chinese—the roughly chronological tally offers a mix of 16 religious, civil, cultural, and even (in the case of the Spanish town of Buñol’s “La Tomatina” festival) local holidays. Brown barely and rarely alludes to religious origins and rituals (presenting Easter, for instance, though an “important Christian holiday,” as all about hunting eggs, which are “a symbol of new life and new beginnings”) but places festive gatherings for food and frolic front and center. Konak follows suit, depicting smiling groups around tables for Eid and at a Passover seder, picnicking beneath cherry blossoms for Hanami in Japan, crowding along the green Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day, and chucking powdered paint at one another for the Hindu festival of Holi. The groups are diverse both racially and in styles of dress. Like other entries in the Shine-a-Light series, most of the illustrations are backed with white areas and print on a solid black background so that holding the colored pages up to a light reveals hidden details. Notes at the back supply a few additional bits about each of the holidays except, oddly, the closing scene of midnight fireworks on one of the many other New Years, Jan. 1.

An inclusive, secular-leaning panorama with a simple but clever visual gimmick. (Informational novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68464-281-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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