Though mostly of regional interest, this could easily be paired with other female tall tales, such as Anne Isaacs and Paul...


“If it weren’t for the Rose girls, what would Alaska be?”

According to this original tall tale, Alaska would be missing many geographic and topographic features if it weren’t for the feats of Sitka and Prickly Rose. “Legend says the Rose girls / towered ten feet tall. / Truth is, Sitka did so; / Prickly not at all.” When Sitka mushes toward Nome, Prickly, as her name suggests, feels left out and declares she won’t be stuck at home. She jumps aboard two orcas and creates a tsunami when she falls off; she rides a “glacier bear”; she yanks the moon and forms tides; she stomps and causes both an earthquake and a volcanic eruption. Just when Prickly’s sour luck runs out, Sitka bursts from the northern lights driving a team of wolverines, and sisterly love erupts. This story follows Gill’s previous picture book, Sitka Rose, illustrated by Shannon Cartwright (2005), checking off expected Alaska attractions (Denali, the Yukon River) and folding in Alaska slang (williwaws, skookum). The rhyming text tends to hamper the flow of the tale, but the wild and woolly story is animated with boisterous illustrations that exaggerate the hijinks. A map in the backmatter pinpoints the locations of the episodes.

Though mostly of regional interest, this could easily be paired with other female tall tales, such as Anne Isaacs and Paul Zelinsky’s Swamp Angel (1994), Jerdine Nolen and Kadir Nelson’s Thunder Rose (2003) and Lynne Bertrand and Kevin Hawkes’ Granite Baby (2005) . (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-57091-356-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Glowing art can’t entirely overcome uneasy text.


This nostalgic picture book celebrates the author’s Dominican heritage.

This poetic picture book sets out to dispel stereotypes and racism around skin color in the Dominican Republic, but it doesn’t quite succeed. The combination of Recio’s extended poem and McCarthy’s richly hued landscapes captures the inherent musicality and vibrancy of the Dominican countryside, coasts, and people. However, the text is sometimes hit or miss, especially when forcing a rhyme: “The shade of cinnamon in your cocoa, / drums beating so fast, they drive you loco,” feels forced. The Afro-Dominican author attempts to extol the different races found on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, elevating the country’s Black roots: “It’d be the curls and kinks / that blend my hair, / the color of charcoal / mixed with the sun’s glare.” In her striving to reclaim colorist language, Recio doesn’t quite succeed, and her use of terms such as “yellow tint” and “the Haitian black / on my Dominican back” feels at odds with the powerful message she’s trying to convey while inadvertently recalling the racial caste system put in place by Spanish colonialists. McCarthy’s stunning art interprets the text with texture and light, her illustrations portraying the diversity and beauty of the Dominican people. The lush foliage, the impossibly blue skies, and the otherworldly pinks and oranges spring off the page with joy and verve. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.1% of actual size.)

Glowing art can’t entirely overcome uneasy text. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6179-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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