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A warm tale of family bursting with color and love.

A family spice box unites three generations of South Asian chefs.

Rishi’s grandmother—whom he calls Paati—is arriving from India today. So Rishi asks his father if they can make potato curry together to welcome her. Dad’s busy, so Rishi grabs the family spice box, which holds great significance for the family. Paati, the original owner of the box, used the spices inside to achieve her dream of becoming a renowned chef in the big city, an unusual achievement for a woman at the time. She gave the box to Rishi’s father before he left for a new country. Rishi’s dad was nervous about the move, thinking he might stick out as a recent immigrant. Happily, he arrived in a welcoming, diverse community, where, after a few mistakes and a lot of trial and error, he, too, learned to use the spice box to make delicious meals. When Rishi now lifts the box up high, disaster strikes. With a broken box, will Rishi ever earn the family title of “Master of Spice”? This gorgeous, tenderly told story uses a beloved spice box—something many South Asian and, specifically, Tamil families, will recognize—to tell an intergenerational story about adventure, love, and inheritance. With swirls of vibrant colors and effective use of repetition, the book depicts a family supporting its youngest member even through mistakes.

A warm tale of family bursting with color and love. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780593427132

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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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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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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