THE UMBRELLA QUEEN

On New Year’s Day in Noot’s Thai village, the woman who paints the most beautiful umbrella is crowned Umbrella Queen and leads a parade. More than anything else, little Noot wants to paint umbrellas and begs her mother for the chance. Noot does well, but instead of the traditional flower and butterfly designs, Noot paints frolicking elephants. She is scolded since these cannot be sold, but in her spare time she paints elephants on tiny umbrellas that she places on her windowsill. When New Year’s Day arrives, the king studies the umbrellas on display, but Noot’s tiny umbrellas catch his eye. “I like elephants,” she explains simply. Charmed, he pronounces Noot the Umbrella Queen. Yoo’s delicate linoleum print-and-pencil illustrations, with their limited palette of mustard, brick, green and blue, have an entirely distinctive feel, investing Noot and her village with warmth and energy. While a note on the art of umbrella-painting would have been a welcome addition, this tale of a budding artist is a special treat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-075040-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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

CARPENTER'S HELPER

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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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LOLA LOVES STORIES

From the Lola & Leo series

Lola’s daddy takes her to the library every Saturday, where she finds “excellent books,” and every night her mommy or daddy reads them to her. The next day Lola acts out the story. On Sunday she’s a fairy princess; on Monday she takes her toy animals “on fantastic trips to places like Paris”; on Wednesday she’s a tiger, etc. Each new book and day provides Lola with a variety of tales to play out, with the last one—which is about a wild monster—posing the question, “What will Lola be tomorrow?” The final page shows her in a wolf suit just like Max’s. The library books, the pretending and the incorporation of the days of the week work together as a simple and pleasing premise. Beardshaw’s acrylic illustrations depict the multicultural kids and Lola’s black family with childlike charm, while the title will have librarians, parents and booksellers smiling. Alert: The book will be an invitation for lap kids to follow Lola’s lead—not such a bad thing. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-258-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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