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THE MOCHI MAKERS

A storytelling treat to be savored among family.

A Japanese American grandmother and child cook, pound, pat, and munch yummy mochi!

Endpapers hint at the treat that the child and Obaachan decide to make together, using a long-standing, matrilineal recipe. With Obaachan’s “strong, wrinkled hands” and the child’s “small, quick ones”—and their whole hearts—they prepare the rice (spilling only a few grains!). While it cooks, Obaachan tells the story of how she came to America, and the two play cards and sip green tea. Soon it’s time to put the rice in a mixer, “which pounds it into a sticky mound,” and pat rice balls into flat cakes. They fill some mochi with sweet red bean paste, coat others in soybean powder, fold strawberries into others, and then prepare boxes to share with friends and family. The child says that mochi is how this family shares love, traditions, and gratitude. Each step of this tasty story glows with joy and kindness, punctuated by rich sensory language. Digital collage illustrations, dominated by the same pastel pinks as the mochi, use mixed media (including cloth that Fujimoto-Johnson’s own grandmother embroidered) to immerse readers in a warm, cozy home environment. Obaachan and the child remember Ojiichan (Grandpa), who appears to be deceased, and his love of mochi. An author’s note describes the autobiographical aspects of the story and offers background on this Japanese treat and a recipe to make it at home.

A storytelling treat to be savored among family. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2024

ISBN: 9781665931540

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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