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A fine example of contemporary multicultural literature.

Debut author Liu scores with a sweet story about the joys of intergenerational relationships.

Some children bake cookies with their grandpas. Others play chess with their grandmas. Mei Mei and her grandfather, Gong Gong, find a special way to connect. “Tai chi is a martial art that sends good energy through your body,” explains Gong Gong. “Martial art!…I can do karate. HI-YAH!” replies Mei Mei. As Gong Gong demonstrates his graceful tai chi moves, Mei Mei interprets them using her own style and tempo. “Gong Gong conducted a quiet symphony. Mei Mei drummed the earth with hands and feet.” Next, Mei Mei teaches Gong Gong some yoga moves. Mei Mei sits elegantly like a mermaid “with one leg bent behind her and the other leg folded in front….a creature of the deep sea guarding treasures.” Gong Gong on the other hand, “twisted his leg this way and that and almost fell over. He was a fish in the water trying to escape a dangling hook.” Together, Liu’s lively text and Forshay’s playful illustrations effectively capture a true-to-life relationship that transcends cultures and generations. Vibrant colors, dynamic scenes, and bubbly expressions—cross-eyed Mei Mei sucking in her cheeks is a winner!—all add to the giggles. The love between the two shines through in both text and illustrations. The illustrated guide to tai chi and yoga poses that follows the story is a pleasing touch.

A fine example of contemporary multicultural literature. (glossary, sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62014-192-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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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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