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SMON SMON

Weird, wonderful, and proof that journeying to places of uncertainty and unfamiliarity can feel extraordinarily exciting.

Welcome to the planet Gon Gon, where the Smon Smon “hangs its last ron ron next to its won won on a lon lon and floats away in a ton ton.”

Ruddy pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations help disoriented readers make sense of these words and this woodsy world, a place looming with what resembles knobby bark, nutshells, mushrooms, thistles, slender vines, and berries. Matryoshka-looking beings named Smon Smons and the even smaller Klon Klons live and work gathering fruit in this dusky, autumnal place. Cross-referencing words and pictures, readers puzzle out meanings with pleasure: ron ron = a fruit or vegetable; won won = a bed made of soft deciduous fiber; lon lon = a rope; ton ton = a concave vessel, studded and bumpy on the outside, smooth on the inside. Vocabulary builds with each page turn, and readers grow more comfortable with this punchy single-syllabic alien lexicon, one perfect for a disarming read-aloud. The Smon Smon remains sweetly elusive as it perambulates and cheerily gathers food. Rosy-cheeked, its arched brows and nose tip painted black, the Smon Smon extends its neck impressive lengths when needed. Its gender remains ambiguous throughout, even when the Smon Smon finally reaches its resting place and another who seems its mate. The Smon Smons smile inscrutably, delightfully difficult to discern or affix to familiar paradigms.

Weird, wonderful, and proof that journeying to places of uncertainty and unfamiliarity can feel extraordinarily exciting. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4307-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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STELLA DÍAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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