The photographs carry this board book even though the presentation and text disappoint.

DIWALI LIGHTS

Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the largest Hindu festivals, and it’s celebrated all around the world; this nonfiction board book presents its sights, sounds, and celebrations.

Each page of brief, often rhyming text is paired with a vivid photograph depicting wide-eyed toddlers and young children of the Indian diaspora, with dark hair and skin of varying shades of brown. These photographs are the best feature of this book. The text, as narrated by an adult to a young child, talks about the various aspects of the Diwali celebration, including new clothes, prayers, henna, sweets, firecrackers. It occasionally reads awkwardly, and readers may have to hunt for rhymes: “Buy diyas, candles / and paper lanterns.// Henna for hands / and rangoli sand.” With its focus on very young children, the book shows how Diwali is celebrated rather than why. However, notably absent is the holiday’s important community aspect. And although there are multiple mentions of diyas, these beautiful clay lamps that are a highlight of this festival are neither depicted nor explained; neither are such other specialized vocabulary as “jaan” or “rangoli.” A short note at the back of the book gives a smidge more information for older children. There are not many board books for very young kids on this topic, and this one is not everything it could have been.

The photographs carry this board book even though the presentation and text disappoint. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1908-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Worth wading through the text for the artwork, which offers a more inclusive portrayal of the Nativity.

THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS

Originally published in 1998 with illustrations by Lorraine Wells, then republished in 2010 with art by Rebecca Thornburgh, Pingry’s Nativity story sees new life with fresh artwork by Buckingham.

A brown-skinned family gathers on Christmas and learns the story of Jesus’ birth, from the angel telling Mary that she will have a child, to Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem, to, finally, the Wise Men celebrating the new baby’s birth. At the end, the present-day family exchanges gifts as a sign of love for each other and celebrates Jesus’ birthday. The somewhat bland text treads familiar ground; this is a story that’s been told and retold many times, though it does break the tale down into digestible pieces for young children. Because the explanations are fairly simple, it may not be helpful to those seeking to learn about the holiday. The illustrations, however, are cheery and warm. Notably, the biblical figures, except for a couple of light-skinned angels, are depicted in varying shades of brown skin—a welcome change from books about the Nativity that portray characters as White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Worth wading through the text for the artwork, which offers a more inclusive portrayal of the Nativity. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5460-0233-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Charming illustrations breathe new life into a familiar theme and spin a delightful, original tale.

WEB OPPOSITES

A book about opposites features spiders and their webs.

This concept book pairs single-word opposites that tell compelling mini-tales on each spread. Each layout presents two words—neat and messy, left and right, inside and outside. A spider appears in the illustration accompanying each word, as does its web (with the exception of a spread showing an “invisible” web). The tiny details delight: The illustration for night, which includes a spider in pajamas adorned with webs (what else?), depicts a spider snuggling a wide-eyed, petrified bug, sure to eventually become its prey. The illustration for high shows a web in space next to a proud astronaut spider, who waves at readers. The vocabulary ranges from simple words to ones somewhat complicated for the board-book set; there are the words small and big on one spread, yet attached and detached and clockwise and counterclockwise appear on two others. The depictions of the webs indicate movement and are visually interesting. A page with the word crowded showcases partying spiders, who enjoy cake, take selfies, and make music. There’s a heavy use of black and white on negative space, yet pops of color keep the visuals compelling. Little readers will love poring over the spiders’ antics and all of the ways the webs take shape.

Charming illustrations breathe new life into a familiar theme and spin a delightful, original tale. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22521-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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