Not one of Elya’s stellar efforts. Such previous offerings as Little Roja Riding Hood (2014) and No More, Por Favor (2010)...

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LA MADRE GOOSE

NURSERY RHYMES FOR LOS NIÑOS

Elya’s spin on Mother Goose offers a collection of nursery favorites spiced with a Latin American twist.

The most successful of these offerings incorporate Spanish words within the familiar cadences of traditional rhymes. “What are las niñas made of? / Azúcar and flores / And all los colores. / That’s what las niñas are made of!” But most of them bog down in gratingly awkward phrasing resulting from the substitution of two-syllable Spanish words for one-syllable English words—without accommodating meter. Employing “This little cerdo had roasted carne” instead of opting for the more streamlined “This little cerdo had carne” ruins the lyrical integrity of the verse. Other substitutions are unsuccessful on a content front. The transformation of “Sunday’s child” into a bullfighter is disappointing, as is the thieving plate holding a bag of loot (fortuna, to rhyme with luna) in “Hey, Diddle, Diddle.” Both “Old Mother Hubbard” (“Old Madre Rosario”) and “Little Jack Horner” (“Young Juan Ramón”) have been nearly completely rewritten but retain the gists of the originals. Martinez-Neal’s illustrations (made with acrylics, colored pencils, and graphite) abound with multiethnic children sporting the requisite chubby-cheeked features of the toddler set, and the artist’s animals are of the obligatory fuzzy and frolicking kind seen festooning preschool classrooms.

Not one of Elya’s stellar efforts. Such previous offerings as Little Roja Riding Hood (2014) and No More, Por Favor (2010) are far better examples of her snappy language-integration skills . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-25157-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems.

DIGGER, DOZER, DUMPER

Rhyming poems introduce children to anthropomorphized trucks of all sorts, as well as the jobs that they do.

Adorable multiethnic children are the drivers of these 16 trucks—from construction equipment to city trucks, rescue vehicles and a semi—easily standing in for readers, a point made very clear on the final spread. Varying rhyme schemes and poem lengths help keep readers’ attention. For the most part, the rhymes and rhythms work, as in this, from “Cement Mixer”: “No time to wait; / he can’t sit still. / He has to beg your pardon. / For if he dawdles on the way, / his slushy load will harden.” Slonim’s trucks each sport an expressive pair of eyes, but the anthropomorphism stops there, at least in the pictures—Vestergaard sometimes takes it too far, as in “Bulldozer”: “He’s not a bully, either, / although he’s big and tough. / He waits his turn, plays well with friends, / and pushes just enough.” A few trucks’ jobs get short shrift, to mixed effect: “Skid-Steer Loader” focuses on how this truck moves without the typical steering wheel, but “Semi” runs with a royalty analogy and fails to truly impart any knowledge. The acrylic-and-charcoal artwork, set against white backgrounds, keeps the focus on the trucks and the jobs they are doing.

While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5078-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A sprightly and charming modern take on a traditional rhyme.

THE THREE LITTLE KITTENS

This adaptation of a traditional English nursery rhyme features a contemporary setting, dialogue, and a small twist.

Three anthropomorphized kittens wearing conspicuous, colorful mittens (but no other clothing) are seen outside a cozy suburban house, skateboarding, playing ball, and skipping rope. A sweet scent wafts from an open window, through which a smiling cat in a dotted apron can be seen removing a pie from the oven. In their race to the door the kittens lose their mittens, of course, and the story unfolds from there. In some cases, the rhymes appear in dialogue balloons, at other times as part of the main text, both of which also include additional, original lines. Unexpected interjections add humor, as when the kittens react to the mess they’ve made by eating blueberry pie while wearing mittens: “ ‘Ooops!’ ‘Eeew!’ ‘Gross!’ ” Created with pencil, watercolor, and gouache, McClintock’s feline portraits pack plenty of personality. Big-footed and slightly round-bellied, the variously colored kittens have big eyes and sweet smiles. Mother, meanwhile, is slim and sleek, with extremely expressive whiskers. The setting is simply presented, limited to the outside of the house, inside the kitchen, and at the table. At times the characters appear against blank, softly colored backgrounds. Alternating double-page spreads, single pages, and occasional panels add interest and move the action along smoothly. Sharp-eyed listeners may notice an additional character whose presence is acknowledged in the cheerful conclusion.

A sprightly and charming modern take on a traditional rhyme. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-12587-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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