Well-intentioned but ultimately lacking in kid appeal.

They’re shredded, stained, and stinky. A New York City kid’s favorite sneakers, or “kicks,” have lived an action-packed life.

Skateboarding, tree-climbing, and puddle-splashing have taken their toll. The young black boy is devastated when Mom declares the need for new shoes. He regales his mother with stories about each and every scuff, tear, and splatter as she drags him downtown. In the store the boy rejects all choices, but Mom is adamant. Disgruntled, the child points at random and is pleasantly surprised with the results. The shiny yellow kicks make him jump higher, run faster, and feel just right. The old red canvas shoes are finally retired to a place of honor. Verde’s overlong story stretches credulity in asking readers to believe that a young boy’s shoes will last from summer to summer without getting outgrown. It’s difficult to engage with the nameless boy, whose uneven first-person narration ranges from childlike exclamations (“It was awesome! I RULED that day!”) to adult nostalgia (“These sneakers have soul in their soles. Joy in each hole”). Kath’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are dynamic, but the facial features are fairly generic. The “Shoe-Tying Guide” touted on the dust jacket is printed on the cover instead of on the endpapers, a design flaw that renders the guide virtually inaccessible to library users because most institutions affix the jacket to the book.

Well-intentioned but ultimately lacking in kid appeal. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2309-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015


From the Own Voices, Own Stories series

Uplifting and harmonious.

Tuchi dreams of playing the guitarrón in a mariachi band, but she falters when she learns girls are not allowed in the ensemble.

Hearing the mariachi band playing in the plaza inspires Tuchi. But she’s disappointed when her teacher, Mr. Sanchez, tells her she can’t play in the school’s group: “Mariachi is only for boys.” Later, when her grandfather plays with his friends, Tuchi asks to join in but is told that mariachi requires “strength and stamina. It’s just for boys.” After she finds her grandmother’s old instrument, her Nana encourages her by teaching her how to play and emboldening her to stand up for herself. Although Tuchi is unfairly discouraged by the adults she trusts early in the book, her grandmother’s mentorship, love, and heirloom guitarrón help Tuchi prove that she belongs in the mariachi band and that girls deserve the same opportunities as boys, especially in the classroom. Tuchi’s grandmother is a wonderful example of a positive role model, and their close and nurturing intergenerational relationship will resonate with many. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout; a glossary defines them. Characters are brown-skinned and cued as Latine; the focus on mariachi implies a Mexican setting. Music notes weave through the bright, cartoonlike illustrations, evoking Tuchi’s passion for mariachi. Musically inclined readers will appreciate backmatter with information on other mariachi instruments, with photos.

Uplifting and harmonious. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 15, 2023

ISBN: 9781534111912

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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