A cleverly imagined story with a delightful premise but uneven plot.

SEVEN GOLDEN RINGS

A TALE OF MUSIC AND MATH

Once upon a time there lived a rajah who, despite his good nature, lacked the mathematical ability to properly govern his kingdom….

As a result, his people suffer. One such is Bhagat, a nimble-thinking and hardworking but impoverished young man who lives with his mother in a distant village. Bhagat is a passionate singer, so when he hears that the king is holding auditions for the royal troupe, he travels to the palace to audition. Due to his family’s poverty, Bhagat is able to carry only 1 rupee and seven links from his mother’s wedding chain. When he arrives at his destination, the innkeepers demand a ring in advance for every night that Bhagat stays, but the goldsmith charges 1 rupee per link to break it. How can Bhagat make the necklace last without wasting a single link? With some clever reasoning and base two math, Bhagat makes his resources stretch long enough to get an audience with the rajah—and a new, unexpected opportunity. This heartwarming rags-to-riches story is accompanied by vivid illustrations that pulse with detail, movement, and color. However, the middle of the story consists mostly of expository text detailing different ways to divide the set of seven rings into multiple parts, an abstract diversion that brings the plot to a grinding halt. An author’s note discusses base 10 and binary systems. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 36.1% of actual size.)

A cleverly imagined story with a delightful premise but uneven plot. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-88500-897-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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