A bright, sparkling celebration of a multicultural family.

Two different cultures share joy in many ways.

A family consisting of a light-skinned Jewish parent with a head covering, a Chinese parent, and their two children celebrate two new years. Parallel stores in the illustrations depict the family observing Rosh Hashana and Lunar New Year. While there are obvious differences between the two holidays (“One follows the Jewish calendar. One follows the Chinese calendar”), the focus is on the “many ways they are also alike”; an accompanying image shows the parents holding hands across the pages as they bridge cultures. The gentle narrative reveals the meanings behind each tradition, while delicate, intricate illustrations depict culturally specific practices such as the Chinese custom of sweeping dirt out of the house and the Jewish ceremony of tashlich. “Both New Years inspire delicious dishes,” and two sides of a double-page spread show the delectable new year feasts from both cultures. The children’s expressions glow as they gather with a diverse congregation in a synagogue to sing; on the facing page, the silhouetted family’s happiness is clear as they watch lanterns lift into the night sky. Scurfield deftly uses differing color schemes, with light blue and patterns of white to represent the Jewish traditions, while bold red patterns and yellow represent the Chinese side. As the story progresses, the contrasting patterns and colors bleed into each other to truly celebrate all of the family’s identities. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A bright, sparkling celebration of a multicultural family. (author’s note, visual glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781797212814

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the How To Catch… series

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


Big fun for new readers who are ready to turn their Where’s Waldo skills to finding text.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Big Bunny!

Controlled, repetitive text invites children to read short sentences directing them to find “a foot…a hand…a tail,” and so on. These named body parts belong to a figure that isn’t wholly visible until the book’s end, provoking readers to search them out in the detailed images. Their stark whiteness makes them stand out on the pages, which depict a busy, vibrant setting reminiscent of those in Richard Scarry books and are likewise populated by anthropomorphic animals going about their days. Shifting perspective and scale make it clear that the creature is not just another one of these animals, and many readers will use the title and cover image to infer that they belong to the eponymous Big Bunny. The reveal at the conclusion is that Big Bunny is not a giant but a large helium balloon of the sort seen in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While this clever conceit is carried out with accessible text, there is a little quibble: the saturation and intentional busyness of the illustrations leaves little rest for new readers’ eyes. The sentences and vocabulary are simple, but finding them on the page is the challenge here.

Big fun for new readers who are ready to turn their Where’s Waldo skills to finding text. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3458-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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