Totally genuine and fills a gap by showcasing positive outcomes in blended families.

THE TOTALLY NOT WICKED STEPMOTHER

Perhaps stepmothers aren’t as cruel as folklore has led us to believe.

When a child learns that their family is getting a new stepmother, they are skeptical. After all, Cinderella, Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel all had stepmothers who were “TOTALLY wicked” and “B-A-D.” Surely the new stepmother, Holly, will be assigning arduous chores. But instead, she helps renovate the protagonist’s bedroom, painting the ceiling blue to resemble the sky. And while fairy-tale stepmothers abandon their kids in the woods, Holly saves the day when the family is lost on a hiking trip. Though the child isn’t entirely convinced of Holly’s benevolence, the new stepmother continues to score points through gestures of affection, like putting notes in lunches, saving school artwork, and offering support after the protagonist sustains an injury. As the protagonist’s trust in their stepmother grows, they try out new names for her, such as Stepster and Steppypants, before settling on Holly. Layouts alternate between full-page spreads and vignettes, creating plenty of visual movement along with bright and welcoming colors. This is a simple lesson, shared humorously and earnestly, about how fears and pre-judgments can shift with experience. Holly, the narrator, and the rest of the family are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Totally genuine and fills a gap by showcasing positive outcomes in blended families. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304336-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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