MARY POPPINS

A delightful excursion into a timelessly magical world, eminently suitable for reading alone or aloud.

A handsomely produced gift edition of the 1934 classic, undoubtedly timed to capitalize on the release of the upcoming film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, in December 2018.

The text, including the later version of the “Bad Tuesday” chapter that Travers rewrote to remove its racial and cultural stereotypes, is laid out in well-leaded lines with spacious margins on smooth, slightly creamy paper. First seen through an oval window cut into the front cover, Mary Poppins is properly cast as a stern, erect figure with (as the narrative has it) “small, rather peering blue eyes” when she is on the job—and the very picture of charming vivacity on her magical “Day Out” with the Match-Man. In Sardá’s stylized scenes other figures are more broadly drawn: Michael as a chubby, rather spoiled-looking brat; Jane as a buttoned-up sort; the rest of the all-white human cast as sharp-featured caricatures. In between the spare array of larger illustrations, sprays of stars and flowers or images of a compass, a purse, or some other iconic item add well-placed notes of color. As they have for generations, readers will be sorry to see Mary Poppins flying off when the wind changes at last but heartened by both her promising “Au revoir” and the fact that the final chapter (like most of the previous ones) ends with an ellipsis….

A delightful excursion into a timelessly magical world, eminently suitable for reading alone or aloud. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-49884-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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