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MY NAME IS LONG AS A RIVER

A heartfelt celebration of cultural heritage.

Kaveri Thanjavur Jayalakshmi Ganesan isn’t fond of her long name and prefers to go by Kav.

The young protagonist learns about the origins of her names while she, her parents, and her grandmother, whom she calls Paati, journey to celebrate Kaveri Pushkaram, a festival that honors the Kaveri River. Before they leave Paati’s home, the child notices green riverbanks and lush waterfalls. Paati tells her she was named for the river—and for her great-great-grandmother. Next, they buy train tickets for Thanjavur, their ancestral home in Tamil Nadu, India, and one of Kaveri’s namesakes. Paati reminds the child how on their last visit, she got her some bommai, or clay dolls. Kaveri’s mother notes that the child shares both her parents’ names. Both mother and daughter are named Jayalakshmi, after the goddess who protects the river. Finally, the name Ganesan comes from her father’s name, Ganesha. At the journey’s end, where the river meets the ocean, Kaveri finally realizes that her name embodies her birthplace and her heritage. Though earlier, Kaveri mentions that some people “trip over my name,” long names aren’t uncommon in India, suggesting that the child lives elsewhere. While Kaveri’s pride is evident by book’s end, readers don’t get much insight into her emotional state or thoughts; at times, the story feels like a list of cultural touchstones. Still, the artwork is vivid, with striking use of color and depictions of clothing, jewelry, foods, rituals, and distinctive temple architecture.

A heartfelt celebration of cultural heritage. (glossary, author’s note, getting names right, about the Kaveri River, map of South India, poems and sayings about the river) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 28, 2024

ISBN: 9780593522936

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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