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MOTHER GHOST

NURSERY RHYMES FOR LITTLE MONSTERS

A treat for those who like their tricks on the scary side.

This collection of shivery Mother Goose rhymes is sure to put kids in the Halloween spirit.

Opening with a spin on “Boys and Girls, Come out to Play,” Kolar sets kids up for the 12 to come: “Come with a whoop and come with a call; / Come with brave hearts or not at all.” All the favorites are here: “Mary Had a Little Ghost,” “Zombie Miss Muffet” (which doesn’t end well for the spider), “Sing a Song of Witches,” “Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary,” “Little Boy Drac.” Kolar’s scansion is spot-on with the originals, making them delicious to read aloud: “Frankenstein had a marvelous mind, / And a marvelous mind had he; / He called for some arms and he called for some eyes / And he called for his thunderbolts three.” Not all are creepy, though: “Twinkle, twinkle, lantern Jack, / Grinning orange against the black, / Crouched beneath the window light / Like a watchman in the night.” “Wee Willie Werewolf” rounds out the collection: “Growling at the window, howling to the skies, / ‘Are the monsters all in bed? The sun’s about to rise!’ ” Garrigue’s appropriately spidery illustrations employ a palette that’s heavy on purple and black, and there are lots of creepy details for observant readers to spy. Of the humans/humanoids who are alive, three have brown skin, and the rest are pale; almost none have discernible chins.

A treat for those who like their tricks on the scary side. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58536-392-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

From the Celebrate the World series

Pass.

The traditions and history of one of Mexico’s most important holidays are introduced in this latest of Eliot’s Celebrate the World series.

From setting up the flower-festooned altars to decorating the calaveras, the preparations depicted involve entire communities over several weeks. Characters in cowboy hats, sombreros, and baseball caps place the final touches on skeletons in full lucha libre regalia or spangled mariachi outfits. However, instead of accurately using Mexico’s name for the holiday, Día de Muertos, Eliot uses the English back-translation, “Día de los Muertos,” as is common in the U.S. even though the story evidently takes place in Mexico. Also, aside from stating that the celebration “is an ancient tradition,” there is no mention of its Indigenous, pre-European/Christian roots nor does the book actively distinguish between Día de Muertos and Halloween. The first-person narration vacillates between child and adult perspectives. “We do all this to celebrate the beauty of life and death rather than mourn it.” Gutierrez’s mixed-media illustrations are convulsive, crowded panes of frenetic activity. Exaggerated facial features border on stereotypical caricatures—snouts and bug eyes abound. Contributing to the crowded page design is the unfortunate choice of board rather than picture-book format. Consequently, the initial perception is that this series is geared toward toddlers, when it is the school-age child who would most benefit from the information in this book.

Pass. (Board book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1515-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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CELEBRATE KWANZAA

WITH CANDLES, COMMUNITY, AND THE FRUITS OF THE HARVEST

From the Holidays Around the World series

A good-enough introduction to a contested festivity but one that’s not in step with the community it’s for.

An overview of the modern African-American holiday.

This book arrives at a time when black people in the United States have had intraracial—some serious, some snarky—conversations about Kwanzaa’s relevance nowadays, from its patchwork inspiration that flattens the cultural diversity of the African continent to a single festive story to, relatedly, the earnest blacker-than-thou pretentiousness surrounding it. Both the author and consultant Keith A. Mayes take great pains—and in painfully simplistic language—to provide a context that attempts to refute the internal arguments as much as it informs its intended audience. In fact, Mayes says in the endnotes that young people are Kwanzaa’s “largest audience and most important constituents” and further extends an invitation to all races and ages to join the winter celebration. However, his “young people represent the future” counterpoint—and the book itself—really responds to an echo of an argument, as black communities have moved the conversation out to listen to African communities who critique the holiday’s loose “African-ness” and deep American-ness and moved on to commemorate holidays that have a more historical base in black people’s experiences in the United States, such as Juneteenth. In this context, the explications of Kwanzaa’s principles and symbols and the smattering of accompanying activities feel out of touch.

A good-enough introduction to a contested festivity but one that’s not in step with the community it’s for. (resources, bibliography, glossary, afterword) (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2849-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2017

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