A thoughtful story that artfully addresses the loss of a grandparent from an immigrant perspective.

THE YELLOW SUITCASE

A young girl goes back to India to visit her grandmother’s house after her death.

Debut author Sriram shares a poignant story based on her daughter’s personal experience. Young Asha travels with her family from the United States to her grandma’s house in India, towing her favorite yellow suitcase. Everything looks familiar in India, except her grandma is not there. But the house is full of other people, both relatives and people she doesn’t recognize, and they’re all talking about Grandma. Asha reminisces how she always carried gifts for her grandma in her yellow suitcase and how her grandma always showered her with gifts to carry back to America. When she asks her father if she’ll ever see her grandma again, he cries. Asha doesn’t quite know how to deal with her grandmother’s death and responds with aloof moodiness. Two weeks go by, and just as she is about to leave India, she realizes her grandmother left behind a special surprise for her. This immigrant narrative beautifully captures the emotions of loss, love, and belonging that the little girl experiences, embedding readers in Asha’s developmentally spot-on perspective. The illustrations, done in a pastel palette and flat perspective, reveal authentic snapshots of India, though the characters feel stiff at times, which may limit their appeal.

A thoughtful story that artfully addresses the loss of a grandparent from an immigrant perspective. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9996584-1-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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