TRICKY CHOPSTICKS

A funny, relatable tale about the value of creative thinking and persistence.

A young girl of Chinese descent struggles to use chopsticks.

Despite her best efforts, Jenny Chow cannot figure out how to use “slippery, wobbly, and tricky” chopsticks. Everyone she knows can pick up dumplings and noodles with ease; even her little sister has mastered the skill! Jenny’s plight is obvious to everyone. Her mother encourages her to keep trying, her cousin laughs at her, and even the waiter at the dim sum restaurant knows to bring Jenny a fork, to her great embarrassment. As the Chow family’s Annual Chopsticks Challenge approaches, Jenny is determined to learn how to use the troublesome utensils once and for all. She perseveres through extensive trial and error, but will she finally wow her family? Chen’s use of onomatopoeia (represented in both English and Mandarin characters) perfectly conveys Jenny’s frustrations, while Liem’s appealing cartoon illustrations capture Jenny’s experiments in chopstick re-engineering with slapstick humor and cleverness. Young chopstick users will find comfort in this story about a common rite of passage, but all readers will be delighted by Jenny’s problem-solving prowess. Most characters appear East Asian. In an author’s note, Chen discusses how, when she was younger, her mother set up “chopstick challenges” for her and her sisters. Instructions for making chopsticks tongs conclude the work.

A funny, relatable tale about the value of creative thinking and persistence. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2024

ISBN: 9781665921497

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

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

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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