A sentimental holiday story told by a parent as he learns to let go.

NEW YEAR

A father shares heartfelt reflections about his adult child in a distant land.

Told from a middle-aged man’s point of view, this illustrated book details the deep emotions and ambivalence of a father who is at once proud of his daughter’s achievements and independence, yet wistful over how quickly she has grown up and lives too far away to celebrate Spring Festival with him. From Beijing to Paris, visual vignettes carry a monologue that pivots between his reminiscences of her childhood and observations of her current life as a literary translator and a wife. On a macro level, this volume portrays a sliver of China’s modern reality in which individuals become global citizens as the result of their international educations and choices to remain abroad. As a work in translation, the text preserves traditional attitudes and biases in food cultures that ring true for the narrator’s positioning. His declarative conclusion to “make yourself a feast and enjoy it with Sylvain” signals the father’s reconciliation with their ongoing separation yet feels abrupt given how much he misses her “delicate, still childlike voice.” Readers might wonder how the otherwise nameless Daughter—or the adult female dining with her father—would respond to his self-absorbed musings. The lovely artwork features sketches and snapshots juxtaposed against plain backgrounds that accentuate the nostalgic spreads.

A sentimental holiday story told by a parent as he learns to let go. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77164-731-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Aldana Libros/Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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