As the book ends, Maya’s daughter is sleeping under “her own special, magical manta.” Readers may be eager to tell their own...

MAYA'S BLANKET/LA MANTA DE MAYA

A familiar tale crosses cultures with almost magical ease.

The story is based on the well-known Jewish folk tale in which an old, worn coat is turned into a jacket, then a vest, then a tie, here given a warm, Latino spin. Not only does Brown’s text alternate passages in English with sections in Spanish translated by Domínguez, but on some pages, nearly every sentence is written in two languages: “Maya made her manta into a vestido that she loved very much.” The effect isn’t subtle, and at first, every paragraph feels like a vocabulary lesson. But as the sentences get longer, the language becomes hypnotic. As Maya’s blanket is recut and resewn, the words begin to sound like an incantation: “So with her own two hands and Abuelita’s help, Maya made her rebozo that was her falda that was her vestido that was her manta into a bufanda that she loved very much.” It sounds like a magic spell to preserve the garment for all time. Sometimes spells work: Maya turns the blanket into a story, the same picture book that is in readers’ hands. Diaz’s beautiful, mixed-media illustrations feel like another sort of magic. The moon looks like a pomegranate. A spinning jump rope looks like water shooting from a fountain.

As the book ends, Maya’s daughter is sleeping under “her own special, magical manta.” Readers may be eager to tell their own versions of the story—that’s how magic works. (author’s note, glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-89239-292-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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