Sweet and comforting.

READ REVIEW

HOLES IN THE SKY

Trisha looks for signs from her grandmother in the sky but finds them closer than expected.

Trisha’s comfortably zaftig Russian grandmother tells her that stars are really “holes in the sky,” with the light of heaven gleaming through them. She says that she will be there soon but will watch over them, and she will send a sign to let them know. After Babushka dies, Trisha’s all-white family moves to the diverse city of Oakland, California, and Trisha becomes best friends with a black boy named Stewart. Stewart brings Trisha home to meet his grandmother Eula, a woman who cooks and gardens and whose shape echoes Babushka’s. Miss Eula mentions that Verna Bacci’s garden used to be the most beautiful on the block, before she lost her son in a terrible accident. The three of them decide to do something nice for Miss Verna, and the whole neighborhood pitches in. While Trisha has been searching the sky every night for a sign from Babushka, Miss Verna gets a sign from her son that they all can see. In the end, Miss Eula dabs vanilla behind Trisha’s ears just like Babushka used to, and Trisha realizes that her sign has been right in front of her. Polacco’s signature illustration style in sketched pencil and color emphasizes the relationships among people, just as the text celebrates the power of connection and the miracle of love in unexpected places.

Sweet and comforting. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3948-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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