THE CHICKEN SALAD CLUB

The story of a boy who visits his 100-year-old great-grandfather every day after school to hear his tales is imbued with elements of wishful thinking. Nathaniel looks forward to chicken salad sandwiches and lemonade in the perfectly appointed 1940s kitchen of his “Greatpaw,” after which they retire to the living room for storytelling. “Tell me about the day of the storm,” is one opener to the elderly man’s recitations of boyish adventures and dreams, including one about meeting his wife at the church box supper: “I had to buy it, even though the biddin’ went a mite high,” Greatpaw says. The two advertise for other century-old storytellers by posting a notice in the library for a gathering with refreshments, and it will be hard for readers to believe that a man this old doesn’t prepare himself for disappointment when nobody shows. Nathaniel places an ad in the “Confidentials,” which draws an elderly storyteller named Sadie. Despite the illustrations full of warm and cozy details, this nostalgic, personal book is so unlikely- -more of a prescription for youngsters than a description of their real lives—that it may fail to find an audience. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8037-1915-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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MY ROTTEN REDHEADED OLDER BROTHER

Patricia has an older brother who looks "like a weasel with glasses," but that's just for starters. The real problem with him — besides his red wiry hair and his freckles — is that he's always telling her he can do everything better than she can. He can pick more blackberries, he can eat more rhubarb without puckering; he can run faster, climb higher, burp louder, and spit farther. Worst of all, he's four years older, "always has been and always will be." When Patricia's babushka — her grandmother — teaches her how to wish on a falling star, Patricia wishes to do something better than he does. She gets her wish and winds up seeing a different side of her brother as well. Polacco's (Babushka Baba Yaga, 1993, etc.; Pink and Say, see below) text is smooth, effortless, and completely natural-sounding. Her drawings are funny and vivacious — as usual, her characters are drawn with wonderful facial expressions and limbs akimbo. She has the ability to transport you to her settings — in this case, to a Michigan farm where you can practically feel the sun and smell the pies baking. Polacco has proved time and again that she is masterful both as illustrator and storyteller, and this book is no exception. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-72751-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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