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Playing with your food has never been quite so enticing.

In this slurp-worthy picture book, Mei loves to watch Grandpa Tu create noodles spun out of dough, magic and plenty of heart.

The emperor’s birthday approaches, and Mei’s village buzzes with preparations. Grandpa Tu, a master noodle maker, enchants Mei with show-stopping dexterity, as he slaps, kneads and stretches plain dough into wondrous noodles. Mei asks if he can make jump ropes or kite strings from noodles. He answers with poetic wit—“Simple as a sunflower seed” and “Easy as a sea breeze”—and works through the night with abandon. When it’s time for the emperor’s long-life noodles, a birthday tradition, to be made, the villagers are surprised to learn Grandpa Tu isn’t making them. Instead, he says it’s time for Mei to learn the art of magic noodle making herself. This intergenerational relationship endears from the start, and readers will want not only a plate of noodles, but a grandpa like Tu. Thong plants a playful, repeated rhythm to describe his technique (“SLAP, knead and stretch”), which grows organically with Mei’s discovery of her own talents. So’s rich watercolor illustrations radiate affection between the two, especially when they stretch noodles in a cats-cradle–like fashion or across the gutter in a vigorous culinary workout. And animal-shaped noodles, in the forms of cats, roosters and a dragon, add whimsy and elegance.

Playing with your food has never been quite so enticing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-52167-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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