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

READ REVIEW

THE IMPERFECT GARDEN

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 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging.

ISLANDBORN

A young girl’s homework assignment unravels the history and beauty of her homeland.

Lola and her classmates are assigned to draw pictures of their respective origin countries. With excitement, the others begin sharing what they will draw: pyramids, a long canal, a mongoose. Lola, concerned, doesn’t remember what life was like on the Island, and so she recruits her whole neighborhood. There is Leticia, her cousin; Mrs. Bernard, who sells the crispy empanadas; Leticia’s brother Jhonathan, a barber; her mother; her abuela; and their gruff building superintendent. With every description, Lola learns something new: about the Island’s large bats, mangoes, colorful people, music and dancing everywhere, the beaches and sea life, and devastating hurricanes. Espinosa’s fine, vibrant illustrations dress the story in colorful cacophony and play with texture (hair especially) as Lola conjures images of her homeland. While the story does not identify the Island by name, readers familiar with Díaz’s repertoire will instantly identify it as the Dominican Republic, a conclusion that’s supported when the super recalls the Monster (Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo), and sharp-eyed readers should look at the magnets on Lola’s refrigerator. Lola, Teresa Mlawer’s translation, is just as poignant as the original.

Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2986-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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This odd story is not for every reader, but those who enjoy it may find a friend for life

WILD HONEY FROM THE MOON

A determined mother embarks on a surreal adventure.

Kraegel’s format-defying tale is an unexpected story of love, determination, and parenting. Mother Shrew’s son, Hugo, is taken ill on the last day of January with a rare illness that makes him lethargic, with hot feet and a cold head. From “Dr. Ponteluma’s Book of Medical Inquiry and Physiological Know-How,” Mother Shrew learns that the only cure for this odd, unnamed illness is a spoonful of honey from the moon. Ferociously determined to cure Hugo, she sets out to save her son. In each new chapter, Mother Shrew faces a new obstacle or not-too-scary adversary as she braves the moon’s unusual environment—its verdant fields and lush forests make a stark contrast to the wintry landscape Mother Shrew has left behind—and its madcap inhabitants. Divided into seven heavily illustrated chapters, the story is one that will captivate contemplative and creative young readers. Caregivers may find this to be their next weeklong bedtime story and one that fanciful children will want to hear again and again. Kraegel’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are reminiscent of Sergio Ruzzier’s but a bit grittier and with a darker color scheme. The surreal landscapes are appropriately unsettling, but a bright color palette keeps them from overwhelming readers.

This odd story is not for every reader, but those who enjoy it may find a friend for life . (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8169-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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