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    Best Books Of 2019


A beautifully rendered, touching celebration of sharing traditions across generations and cultures.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

A girl finds a way to keep her grandmother from missing India in this picture book.

Priya’s house is the only one on her street with an Indian family. After school every day, she helps her grandmother Babi Ba make rotli for dinner. As they work, Priya asks Babi Ba what India is like. Her grandmother responds with highlights of India for each of the senses, describing the smells of the spice market, the sounds of the tuk-tuks and cows in the street, the “swish-swish of a sari,” the taste of hot cha, and the crowd with its mix of beliefs and customs. Babi Ba describes the marigold garlands, just like the one “hanging in the doorway” of Priya’s house. In the winter, Priya notices her grandmother’s sadness and discusses the marigold garland tradition with her school friends. They help Priya make a huge garland of paper marigolds for Babi Ba. Patel (Neela Goes to San Francisco, 2016) is an Indian American author whose “family is from Gujarat, India.” In her tale, Priya’s strong connections to her grandmother and her diverse classmates, who are so open to learning her traditions, offer a wonderfully ideal view of culture sharing. Patel’s drawings, rendered without hard lines but in brilliant colors inspired by her visits to India, capture the theme vividly.

A beautifully rendered, touching celebration of sharing traditions across generations and cultures.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64343-955-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019



From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019


A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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