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A spirited book about gender, age, rights, and the importance of education.

Inspired by a real-life school for older, illiterate women in western India, a picture book about women’s education and empowerment and the love between a grandmother and her granddaughter.

The story is narrated by a girl who tells of her aaji’s school: “She rushes through her chores so she can change into her uniform—a bright pink sari…. / Then I take her hand in mine and walk her to school.” When Aaji first learns to spell her name, she and her granddaughter do “a little dance”; both characters’ joy is evident on the page—and infectious. Similarly, readers will cheer when Aaji shows the “rude man behind the counter” at the bank that she can sign her name; he had always dismissed her, saying “people who gave thumbprints instead of signatures [had] to wait.” Aaji’s triumphant smile says it all. Crucially, Singh makes it clear that even though Aaji may be just now learning to read and write, the stories she tells the narrator at night are as vivid as any book’s. Rooney’s vibrant, multimedia illustrations complement the text’s exuberance and positivity, incorporating Marathi script into several spreads. An author’s note details the establishment of Aajibaichi Shala in 2016 by local schoolteacher Yogendra Banger, who wanted everyone in his village to be able to read and write—including women who were once denied this opportunity.

A spirited book about gender, age, rights, and the importance of education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1905-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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