In the beginning there was Elizabeti’s Doll (1998), then, Mama Elizabeti (2000). Now, Stuve-Bodeen and Hale team up for the third installment in the series set in Tanzania. In this addition, Elizabeti is excited to start school. Hale’s mixed-media illustrations picture the preparation: in the opening spread, Mama braids Elizabeti’s hair; a trio of vignettes shows the girl as she tests out her new uniform, twirling her skirt and touching her shoes (“No more bare feet! Elizabeti smiled. School must be a very special place”). But excitement soon leads to anxiety—and back again—as Elizabeti enters the schoolyard. At first Elizabeti pulls away from the action, relying on big sister Pendo for safe keeping; an invitation to a join a game of machaura—American children will recognize the game as a variation of jacks—increases her comfort level. When Elizabeti goes home, however, her enthusiasm wanes. After all, her own shoes are much more comfortable than school shoes, her dress is softer and Obedi the cat has given birth to kittens right under Elizabeti’s bed. It is this event that signals Elizabeti’s change of heart, for she has learned in school how to count to five and uses her newfound skill to count the kittens. Soon, she shows off her knowledge of the alphabet and challenges her mother to a game of machaura. It’s enough to make her realize school might not be so bad after all. Throughout, Stuve-Bodeen distills the essence of the school experience, perfectly capturing a child’s emotional state and confirming the universality of first-day jitters. Accented with lively African-inspired paper Hale’s illustrations contain the texture of Tanzania. Together, the talented team offers up another winning peek at a life that’s different but the same. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58430-043-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life.


From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, journey through a Mexican mercado delivering diverse goods to a variety of booths.

With the aid of red words splattered throughout the spreads as labels, Raúl the Third gives an introduction to Spanish vocabulary as Little Lobo, an anthropomorphic wolf, leaves his house, fills his cart with objects from his warehouse, and delivers them to the market’s vendors. The journey also serves as a crash course in Mexican culture, as the images are packed with intertextual details such as food, traditional games, and characters, including Cantinflas, Frida Khalo, and Juan Gabriel. Readers acquainted with Raúl the Third’s characters from his Lowriders series with author Cathy Camper will appreciate cameos from familiar characters. As he makes his rounds, Little Lobo also collects different artifacts that people offer in exchange for his deliveries of shoe polish, clothespins, wood, tissue paper, paintbrushes, and a pair of golden laces. Although Raúl the Third departs from the ball-pen illustrations that he is known for, his depiction of creatures and critters peppering the borderland where his stories are set remains in his trademark style. The softer hues in the illustrations (chosen by colorist Bay) keep the busy compositions friendly, and the halftone patterns filling the illustrations create foregrounds and backgrounds reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s pointillism.

A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-55726-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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