LIFE WITH MY FAMILY

A young girl wonders what life with her loud family would be like if they were animals instead of people.

Chaos surrounds her in the kitchen: Her younger brother is hurling yogurt at her, her baby brother is screaming, and her father is burning his shirt with the iron as her mother pays bills at the table. This all has the girl wondering “what else we could be.” She imagines them all as a pod of pelicans, a swarm of bees, a pride of lions, a smack of jellyfish, and more, all appearing more peaceful than they are as humans at home. When she comes to imagining them as a wisdom of wombats, she realizes that life as animals would hold danger as well: “What if they tried to take my little brother to the zoo?!” In the final two spreads, the wild kitchen scene of the family preparing dinner together settles down as they sit down to a set table, where younger brothers are still messy but smiles abound. She realizes that “while we’re together, there’s no place I’d rather be.” Fun to read, and featuring both common and rare collective nouns (“a pandemonium of parrots”), the book ends with a note about collective nouns and a list of additional “terms of venery.” Humorous illustrations distinguish each family member in the animal imaginings with their signature hair and accessories, such as glasses and a pacifier. It’s a happy interracial family, with a black-presenting dad and Asian-presenting mom; the kids are all distinct individuals.

Cute and familiar. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8937-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

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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