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A joyful celebration of street food and Muslim American culture.

Musa loves Fridays, when Jummah prayer at the masjid is followed by a family Jummah treat at home.

Each member of this Muslim family takes turns choosing the treat. Lately, though, the Jummah treat has been “…interesting.” Like Baba’s kufte kebabs that are hard as rocks or little Maryam’s jelly-bean collection from under her bed. Musa’s turn is coming up, and he can’t wait to treat the family to halal hot dogs from the best stand, the one on the street near the masjid. But first he has to walk to the masjid with his family—dancing the dabke along the way—get through Jummah prayer with a rumbling stomach, wait for his family to be ready to leave the masjid, pass all sorts of other food stands, wait in line, and get all the way home to enjoy their treat. Musa’s enthusiasm for halal hot dogs is infectious, and this portrait of a family and community that takes joy and pride in their identity and traditions is refreshing. Singh’s colorful illustrations use animation-style effects to bring out the humor of the scenes and accessibility of the characters. Both textual and visual details point to this family’s Middle Eastern origins. An informative note at the end of the book defines halal food law for readers unfamiliar with it. This is a fast-paced read, with a vigorously multicultural urban setting that will feel familiar to some and intriguing to others. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 76.2% of actual size.)

A joyful celebration of street food and Muslim American culture. (author's note, glossary of Arabic terms) (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1157-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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