An informative, thoughtful story that encourages appreciation of diverse backgrounds.

A girl embraces her multifaceted heritage in Hernandez’s picture book.

Remy feels disheartened after her new classmates ask her, “Why are your eyes light if you have dark skin?” and “What are you?” She asks her mom, who has dark skin, “What am I?...I don’t look like anyone else.” Remy’s mom proposes they bake a cake, a process that Remy enjoys, and as “the cake rose, so did her spirits.” When Remy eats a slice, Mom asks, “Do you think your cake would taste so delicious if we made it only using flour?” The girl is puzzled. Her mom says the cake is so good because of its multiple ingredients, and she explains that Remy also has “a lot of ingredients that make you into YOU.” She adds that some people, like Remy (who is Polish, Mexican, Black, and Native American), “are a mix of many” ethnicities. Everyone is different, which “makes the world so beautiful.” At school the next day, Remy’s mom gives a baking lesson to Remy’s class. Students choose various enticing flavors and decorations, and every cake is terrific. Remy proudly says, “I’m MIXED and I love all my ingredients.” Hernandez’s sweet analogy is simple but kid friendly and may prompt meaningful conversations for young readers and their parents—along with a baking project or two. Lewis’ spirited illustrations feature bold hues and friendly characters with large eyes. Backdrops include fun additions like watercolor splotches, cake batter swirls, flowers, and flags and faces where Remy’s mom explains the meaning of ethnicity. Includes a page where the reader can note their own “cake mix.”

An informative, thoughtful story that encourages appreciation of diverse backgrounds.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1736880203

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Mixedkids&co

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2022


From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009


Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021