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From the I Can Read! series

Encouragement to try new things even if we end up disliking them.

Gigi and Ojiji are back and trying new foods.

One morning, Gigi, a biracial child whose mother is Japanese and whose father presents white, makes breakfast for her family. She prepares her favorite breakfast—peanut butter, berries, and bananas on toast—but Ojiji, her Japanese grandfather, doesn’t eat it all. Mom says that Ojiji doesn’t like peanut butter, so Gigi asks her to make something people from Japan eat. The following day, they have a traditional Japanese breakfast, which includes salmon, rice, and miso soup. Ojiji and Mom have an additional bowl, which contains natto, fermented soybeans; Gigi thinks that the natto is sticky and slimy and that it smells a bit odd. But when she takes a bite, she lies, saying it tastes good. When her mom includes natto again at dinner, Gigi attempts to hide her food, but Roscoe, her dog, exposes the truth. Highlighting a sweet intergenerational relationship, this is a wonderful addition to the early reader series. Iwai advises readers not to force themselves to like everything even if others love it—what’s important is trying new things. The cartoon art highlights emotions and culture, adding context to help decipher vocabulary. A glossary contains the Japanese words used in the story but no pronunciation guide.

Encouragement to try new things even if we end up disliking them. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780063208124

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

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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

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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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