Strict facts, nicely presented: a winning treatment.

THE MAYFLOWER

Straightforward text and folk-inspired artwork give just the right amount of information for youngsters, beginning with the Pilgrims’ reasons for leaving England and ending with the first Thanksgiving.

Several pages into the book, readers learn the explanation for the cover’s bold and beautiful depiction of a rowboat full of people heading toward the Mayflower: Another ship, the Speedwell, had sprung a leak. Before this, readers learn about the Puritans’ religious fears in England and about how the term Pilgrims refers to a merger of Puritans and Strangers—unaffiliated adventurers—all crammed together onto the Mayflower on its journey to the New World. The well-researched text includes facts most interesting, arguably, to young readers: what people ate on the Mayflower, how children were entertained, a daring rescue, a clever repair to a broken main beam. Although hardships are not omitted, they are properly muted by simple, unsensational sentences. The art is an excellent extension of the text, showing people, animals and artifacts in a semiprimitive style and a gloriously changing palette—especially striking are the images of the tiny Mayflower in the enormous ocean. By the time readers reach the requisite Thanksgiving scene, rendered in bright, lavish, autumnal hues, they will have learned a good deal of history and had their own feast of the artwork’s richness.

Strict facts, nicely presented: a winning treatment. (timeline, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2943-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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