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

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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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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