An absorbing and approachable introduction to the struggles of refugees.

MY HEART IN KENYA

A debut nonfiction picture book focuses on a young refugee and her family.

Nasteha is an Ethiopian girl who tells her Oromo family’s story in this work for elementary school readers. Bigots in her country targeted the Oromo. As Beardsley writes in Nasteha’s voice: “When the Oromo people were in danger of being killed, my mother and father fled Ethiopia.” This happened before Nasteha was born. The family moved to the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya, but only Nasteha’s siblings and pregnant mother were allowed to stay because her father did not have the right paperwork. The camp was a dangerous place, without enough food or water to go around. Eventually, the girl’s family was approved to move to Canada. But when Nasteha was born at the medical facility, she was not on the list to travel with her family. Her mother left her behind with an aunt, and finally, Nasteha was brought to Canada to be reunited with her loved ones. Beardsley’s recounting of these events, using Nasteha’s voice, makes the girl’s story feel relatable and urgent. The technique allows the author to gloss over some of the scarier aspects of the account, making the difficulties evident to young readers without terrifying them. The narrative invites readers to identify with Nasteha and to see the problems faced by refugees. Wood’s photographs of Nasteha and her family make up most of the images. A short, useful glossary defines unfamiliar terms.

An absorbing and approachable introduction to the struggles of refugees.

Pub Date: April 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-6679-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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