On close inspection, it is so much more than it seems: a delightful picture book about a girl child discovering a wondrous...

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MINA VS. THE MONSOON

Ostensibly, this is a story about a girl and her ball and the rain: Mina wants to play soccer, but the monsoon has arrived in her South Asian village.

When her mother tells her to stay inside to prevent catching cold, Mina turns to her sandalwood elephant: “Ammi doesn’t understand…she has never felt that explosion of happiness when you score a goal.” To deal with her frustration, she drums on the tabla to chase away the rain. She asks the doodh wallah why it has to rain; the milkman tells her that the monsoons are a time “to dance and be happy.” Mina dances to stop the rain. Finally, in searching for craft supplies in her mother’s cabinet, Mina finds something that she has never seen before—Ammi’s soccer jersey! Mina realizes that Ammi does understand, and when the clouds break, Mina and Ammi play soccer together. The book’s backmatter includes a glossary with pronunciations for Hindi/Urdu words in the book. Many such phrases appear in the text without adjacent translations (“Nahi beta, stay inside,” Mina’s mother says, without explanation), which is very refreshing for readers who may see themselves in Mina, while context makes them accessible to non-Hindi/Urdu speakers. Dasgupta’s illustrations are dynamic and evocative, complementing Guidroz’s energetic text well, her big-eyed characters exuding energy and verve.

On close inspection, it is so much more than it seems: a delightful picture book about a girl child discovering a wondrous secret about her mother. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-949528-98-5

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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