Start your engines! (Picture book. 4-7)



Moving vehicles are not a new theme for alphabet books, but only a few tackle a variety of machines rather than focusing on just one type; this is one of those exceptions.

Uncluttered, graphically flat illustrations make this one appealing. The majority of the letters are used descriptively or associatively rather than beginning names of wheeled vehicles. Given that approach, some letters are logical, such as Aa for axle, Bb for bumper, Gg for garage and grease, and Yy for yellow cab, while others are a stretch. It’s the creative juxtaposition of images across the double-page spreads that create scenes and keep this from needing an oil change. Jj for junkyard and Kk for kaput show a tow truck hauling away a crashed SUV; Pp and Qq for plugged in and quiet demonstrate an electric car undergoing tests; a man in a hot rod is seen chasing an ice-cream truck. Unusual choices are Rr for (lunar) rover, Ss for stagecoach, Uu for underdog, Vv for victory lane, and Ww for winner. For the letter Xx, two dueling excavators form an X with their buckets poised to dig over a marked spot. A natural pairing is Ll for limousine and Mm for motorcade. Olivera depicts humans in a variety of skin tones, adding whimsy with such touches as a bulldog in a bowler hat, a knight in full armor, and the queen all riding in a double-decker London bus.

Start your engines! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3244-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...


Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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