A satisfying family story that weaves together cultural practices and intergenerational connections.

THE STAR FESTIVAL

A spunky introduction to the origin and customs of Japan’s Star Festival.

Keiko, a young Japanese girl, is so excited to experience her fifth Tanabata Matsuri, which will also be her grandmother’s 85th. Her mother tries to help Keiko behave, but Oba understands Keiko’s bright enthusiasm. Together they all dress up in summer kimonos, put on their geta (one of the sandals falls off of Keiko’s foot), and make their way to the festival. Oba recounts the folktale behind the festival, in which two stars fell in love and neglected their duties, causing the Emperor of the Heavens to prevent them from seeing each other. At the festival, Keiko marvels at the taiko drums, streamers, and slippery noodles. Suddenly, Mama notices that Oba is missing! The merry chaos of the festival impedes Mama and Keiko as they frantically search. When at last they reunite, they share the wishes they have made and return home after an eventful day. Themes from the folk story are woven into this family tale, the expressive text seamlessly incorporating Japanese words into the narrative and dialogue. Backmatter includes the story of Tanabata Matsuri as well as information about food, decorations, and instructions on creating a tanzaku for wish making. The warm, rich palette alternates between deep hues of blue and red and more muted pastels, with a particularly eye-catching spread of fireworks.

A satisfying family story that weaves together cultural practices and intergenerational connections. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7595-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How to Catch… series

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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