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A rich and inviting portrait of a loving multiracial family.

A family with roots in the “Land of Five Rivers and the Emerald Isle, the Swiss Alps and the Silk Road” makes its newest member feel welcome.

Speaking directly to the infant, the narrator says that this family speaks Hindi, English, and some Spanish. “My name is Narayan,” the young narrator says. “We have named you Uma.” The narratorial voice then appears to shift as other members share their perspectives, including maternal grandparents who call themselves Nana and Nani and love to tell riddles and serve boondi ki raita, a great-grandmother who lives in New Delhi, a paternal grandmother who enjoys gardening and making spaghetti and turkey meatballs, and a paternal grandfather who lives in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, and takes the child to Al Johnson’s for cherry-stuffed French toast. Uma’s dark-skinned mother explains that, although Uma’s lighter skin tone makes it hard for people to see the similarities between the two of them, they are still a family. And while strangers may call the family “half-and-half,” they are in fact a beautiful, diverse whole. Imbued with a frank, child-friendly sense of optimism, this lyrical tale conveys the challenges of being part of a multiracial family. Though the shifts between narrators can be confusing—a problem that’s sometimes aided by the illustrations—overall, it’s a wonderful tribute to family. Patel’s earth-toned artwork swirls with energetic linework as young Uma matures over the course of the story.

A rich and inviting portrait of a loving multiracial family. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781665919036

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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