THE IMPERFECT GARDEN

A diverse family conveys a noteworthy message about food waste and the value of home gardening.

A mother and child harvest fruits and veggies—some of them in funny shapes—from their backyard garden.

Jay narrates this spring-to-fall overview as the two sow, water, and pick their crops. Their cucumbers grow “in all kinds of twirly-whirly shapes!” When Jay wonders why supermarket cukes are so comparatively straight, Mom explains that nonconforming produce is discarded. Mom and Jay dig carrots, including a “two-legged” one. Jay takes bites of two-legged and ordinary carrots, pronouncing both “crunchy and delicious.” The pair harvests apples—some smooth, some bumpy. Including bumpy fruit yields an extra pie for their neighbor. Returning to the supermarket in October, Jay surveys the uniform produce displays, asking the grocer, “Don’t you have any twirly-whirly, lumpy, bumpy fruits and vegetables?” They’re led to an array of reduced-price, less-than-perfect produce—three-legged carrots and more. Assaly’s narrative drives home the point: Fresh produce needn’t be cosmetically perfect to be nourishing and tasty. Her concluding note attests that vast amounts of usable produce are trashed while many people live food-insecure. Filipinx Canadian illustrator dela Noche Milne depicts Jay and Mom with light brown skin and dark hair. Interiors and townscapes brim with charming detail.

A diverse family conveys a noteworthy message about food waste and the value of home gardening. (author’s note, gardening tips) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55455-408-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Categories:

ROBOBABY

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

JOSÉ AND EL PERRO

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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