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DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

This enchanting presentation of the Día de los Muertos holiday will resonate with both those who are new to its traditions...

As the title suggests, Thong and Ballesteros celebrate a Latino holiday that, though it is becoming increasingly more popular in all parts of the United States, is still somewhat misunderstood by non-Latino Americans.

Thong (Green is a Chile Pepper, 2014, etc.) once again proves her mastery at creating a multicultural picture-book text that engages all readers. With an upbeat, celebratory tone, the collaborators introduce many of the traditions and images associated with Día de los Muertos, known in English as the Day of the Dead. “At home we’ve adorned our altares with care. / They’re heaped with recuerdos and good things to share….” The rhyme is rhythmic and effortless, making it a delightful read-aloud. The interspersed Spanish words are defined contextually rather than repeated in translation; this makes the text easy to understand regardless of readers’ language skills and keeps it from feeling redundant for bilingual readers. Ballesteros’ animated illustrations provide images of the Spanish vocabulary in many of the depicted scenes. Readers will feel the festive remembrance of loved ones who have passed. A glossary at the end provides explicit English definitions of the Spanish words, but it unfortunately lacks any pronunciation guide.

This enchanting presentation of the Día de los Muertos holiday will resonate with both those who are new to its traditions and those who have been celebrating for generations. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1566-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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PUMPKIN DAY!

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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