De la Peña wonderfully expresses the impact of music on the soul, and Ramírez’s bright, expressive watercolor illustrations...

COCO

MIGUEL AND THE GRAND HARMONY

Miguel loves music and wants to be a musician more than anything, but his family prohibits him from pursuing his greatest love.

La Música, who narrates in the first person, appears at the strum of a guitar, in wedding bells, in a static-y radio, in the strains of a single violin, whirling through town, joining musicians through the plaza, rising and rising, until Miguel’s abuelita storms out of a shop and demands the musicians stop. “You’ll upset Mamá Coco!” They fumble and stumble away. La Música notices a young boy staring at the guitars in the hands of the musicians, longing for music just as she disappears. Each time she appears again, she looks for the boy and finds him, secretly watching musicians on a hidden TV in his play area, “playing” his broom, but just as she’s about to whisper her name in his ear, his family pulls him away. La Música arranges a careful series of events to help Miguel indulge in music, and the surprise ending lingers in the air like an overheard harmony. Readers don’t learn exactly why Miguel’s family has forbidden music, and though this would be puzzling in a stand-alone book, this book is a side story about the characters in Disney Pixar’s Coco. The tenderness and emotional intelligence of this story serves as a great incentive to learn more about Miguel.

De la Peña wonderfully expresses the impact of music on the soul, and Ramírez’s bright, expressive watercolor illustrations underscore the poetic prose style perfectly. ¡Que viva La Música! (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-8149-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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