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NAMING CEREMONY

A wonderful story of a family’s cultural tradition shared with the whole community.

Amira wants to bestow the perfect name on her baby sister.

True to tradition in many West African countries, Amira’s family has planned a big celebration, complete with food and gifts, for the naming of their new arrival. But the baby doesn’t get just one name; everyone who comes can give her a name, and as she grows, each attendee can either call her their special name or use the name her parents have given her. Grandma Nana, who has dark brown skin like Amira, is gifting the name Shakira, meaning thankful; Amira’s friend Miki gives the baby the name Akahana, Japanese for bright red flower, and appropriately brings along a red flower. The naming ceremony begins—Habiba, or beloved, is the name chosen by Mama and Papa. Though Amira is unsure how her name measures up, at last she proudly names her Otta, or friend. Amira, Mama, Papa, and the baby wear bright blue fabric with golden yellow patterns on it resembling gingko leaves, and though Grandma Nana wears a deep pink dress, it also has the same leaf pattern—identifying them as family. This informative and impactful story gives young readers a window into how West Africans welcome new children into their family. Mohammed’s digitally rendered mixed-media images capture the joyous mood of the gathering. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A wonderful story of a family’s cultural tradition shared with the whole community. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781419756269

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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