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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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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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.


A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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