An inspiring picture book about eco-feminism in action in the global south.



From the CitizenKid series

Haunted by the untimely deaths of his mother and daughter, an Indian man named Sundar grows up to become an activist dedicated to advancing gender equity and environmental justice in his home state of Rajasthan.

After he gets married, Sundar works in a marble quarry owned by men who unapologetically wreak ecological havoc on the land. Disgusted by these practices, Sundar quits his job and runs for the position of head of his village, a title known as the sarpanch, and wins. His joy is short-lived: A year after his victory, his oldest daughter dies. As he mourns, he notices how little female children are valued in his village. He then hatches a plan to honor his daughter’s memory, change attitudes about gender, and combat the deforestation that has been devastating the local land. Every time a girl is born in the village, Sundar decides that the people will plant 111 trees in her honor. Sundar’s idea fundamentally affects his hometown in deeply positive ways. Including endnotes about Rajasthan, gender equity, and eco-feminism, this earnest, inspiring book forthrightly discusses everything from environmental exploitation to female feticide in language suitable for young readers. Although many readers will give a side-eye when Sundar tells the villagers that in developed countries “girls and boys are treated equally,” overall, this is an uplifting story about the power of personal action. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 41.1% of actual size.)

An inspiring picture book about eco-feminism in action in the global south. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0120-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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



From the Holidays Around the World series

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. 28, 2017

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.


Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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