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FESTIVAL OF COLORS

Anodyne but useful

The Sehgals’ newest picture book introduces young readers to Holi, a Hindu spring festival, through color, repetition, and onomatopoeia.

As the book opens, Chintoo and Mintoo—nicknames often given to young children in India or in Indian homes—are preparing for Holi, a holiday during which, among other things, celebrants douse each other with colored powder and water. The children collect flowers, such as hibiscus (“because hibiscus flowers make RED”) and irises (“because irises make BLUE”), and then crush the dried petals into powders to use to play with their parents, friends, and neighbors. “POOF!” the colors pop, and the revelers chant, “Holi, hai! Holi, hai!” (“It’s Holi! It’s Holi!”) Unlike the Sehgals’ text, which lacks rhythm and is quite dull, Harrison’s textured and cinematic illustrations are vivacious and dynamic, with renderings of humans that reflect her background in animation. Refreshingly, she represents children and adults with a wide variety of skin tones; India’s many browns are also on display here. This is the mother-and-son authorial team’s third collaboration (after A Bucket of Blessings, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong, 2016, and The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk, illustrated by Jess Golden, 2014), and while it is sharper than the duo’s previous books, it still falls flat. The book includes an authors’ note that provides further historical and cultural context about Holi, which may provide some classroom relevance.

Anodyne but useful . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2049-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

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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PUMPKIN DAY!

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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