STARRING GRACE

The creators of the popular picture books Amazing Grace (1991) and Boundless Grace (1995) have brought fans a beginning chapter book about Grace and her friends. It’s summer, and the kids keep each other busy playing circus and jungle explorers, inventing a time machine, and trying out for the local production of Annie. Grace learns, as always, important lessons—about privacy, friendship, and family—from her Ma and Nana and neighbor Mrs. Myerson. She and her friends get along well, and always have a good idea for a new game. Curiously, they use expressions like “chatting,” “odds and ends,” and “squabble,” making them sound British. (Hoffman lives in London, but she’s set the story in the US.) Each of the eight chapters is episodic, and though they are linked to each other, there is no binding plot. Hoffman’s narrative style is nearly identical to that in her picture books and, unfortunately, does not provide much in the way of setting. In the picture books, this was compensated for by the illustrations; here, Binch's black-and-white art (not seen) is only occasional, and Hoffman hasn’t made the leap to a style that will engage readers in a chapter-book format. Nor does she introduce the characters, who are difficult to get to know until well into the story, to readers new to the books. However, readers already familiar with these characters may enjoy learning about their new adventures. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8037-2559-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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