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THE PATCHWORK BIKE

Showcasing the fun to be had in a spare world, this book is just what many of us need right now.

A daring girl in a desert village enjoys riding her brother’s bike made of recycled materials in this unusual picture book by Clarke and political artist Rudd, an Australian import.

A young girl with dark skin, cornrows, and shiny sunglasses, wearing shorts, sneakers, and a T-shirt, introduces readers to “the village where we live inside our mud-for-walls home,” her “crazy brothers” who dance atop a police car, and her “fed-up mum,” who looks elegant in a white hijab and dress. The narrator shows readers the sand hill and the “big Fiori tree” where they play boisterously. “But the best thing of all in our village is me and my brothers’ bike.” The bike’s pieces are composed of a bucket seat, tin-can handlebars, wood-cut wheels, and other spare parts; the flag is a flour sack, and the bell is Mum’s milk pot. The license plate—a piece of bark—has “BLM” painted on it, a political statement that echoes an earlier image of the narrator’s brothers playing atop a junked police car. It’s a rugged ride over sand hills and fields and straight through the home (which perhaps explains why Mum is so fed up), and Rudd’s urban artwork is a fitting way to show it. Over a cardboard background, streaks of paint define the people, objects, and movements that make up the girl’s world. The kids in motion on their bike are rendered in an artful smear that evokes speed. The dark, bright, and desert hues create a blazing-hot world readers can almost step right into.

Showcasing the fun to be had in a spare world, this book is just what many of us need right now. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0031-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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