Not, alas, as tasty as its topic.




Somewhere in southern Mexico a hen (who is, of course, little and red) is hankering for some guacamole.

But her otherwise-occupied neighbors, who all agree that “Nothing beats a tasty guacamole,” won’t join in the gathering of the essential ingredients. The coati’s “hanging out,” the snake’s “all tied up,” the armadillo’s “gotta jump,” and the iguana is working on a tan. The hen manages to gather everything she needs, including one giant, red jalapeño—concealing it from the genial but unhelpful cast of characters. When the guacamole is shared all about, the chicken’s secret ingredient has her friends blowing their tops. “ ‘HOLY SQUAWKAMOLE!’ they all hollered. ‘THAT’S A SMOKIN’ HOT GUACAMOLE!’ ” Wood’s retelling of this well-known tale of reaping what you sow meanders along, raising questions throughout. Why are masa and cumin mentioned on the first page when neither is needed to make guacamole? Another puzzle arises from the author’s choice for the protagonist. She makes a point of selecting animal sidekicks native to Mexico but misses an opportunity to use the native turkey instead of the standard chicken. Also, there is both misinformation in the appendix (Aztecs did not use cilantro; it likely arrived with the Spaniards) and the confusing addition of Japanese, French, and Caribbean spins on guacamole. González’s colorful digital art is generically cute but as texturally flat and lackluster as the story itself.

Not, alas, as tasty as its topic. (recipe, glossary) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2253-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.


From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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