A multicultural tasting platter—conscientiously varied if a bit bland overall and thin fare for tourists.

A NEW YORK YEAR

TWELVE MONTHS IN THE LIFE OF NEW YORK'S KIDS

The creators of An English Year (2015) cross the pond for glimpses of an annual round in the Empire State.

In a set of monthly spreads, a conspicuously diverse cast of children present a random-feeling mix of seasonal activities and festivities, mostly in the Big Apple. These include snuggling down to watch videos on a cold day, taking in a Yankees game, passing the challah on Shabbat, wolfing down torrone in Little Italy, visiting museums either in the city or as far away as Rochester and Cooperstown, celebrating holidays ranging from President’s Day to Chinese New Year and Sukkot. Excepting Oktoberfest, Festivus, and a few others, the entries all feature an identifying or explanatory comment with a small, brightly idealized cartoon image. Unsurprisingly, such a quick, broad sweep is as subject to errors as it is to omissions, but aside from the claim that “New York City is on Manhattan Island,” none are real howlers. The author’s avowed focus on “traditional endemic elements and themes” common to “the majority of New York’s children” takes readers beyond the city limits to convey a sense of the whole state’s ethnic multiplicity. A Texas Year publishes simultaneously.

A multicultural tasting platter—conscientiously varied if a bit bland overall and thin fare for tourists. (map, state facts) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-925335-07-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: EK Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Still a holiday to believe in—“even if believing looks a little different this year.”

ALWAYS TOGETHER AT CHRISTMAS

Safe and socially distant ways to celebrate the joys of Christmas.

There is no direct reference to the pandemic in the text. Instead, to Sargent’s lyrical reminders that Christmas is a time to cherish our families, friends, and neighbors, Chambers pairs festive scenes featuring family groups with one or two children decorating indoors, sitting well spaced around a campfire, or gathering via video hookup. These family groups reflect generational diversity as well as, possibly, at least one family with same-sex parents. On a world map children (one in a wheelchair) stand on different continents and wave at one another. Multiple Santas (both White- and Black-presenting, but the one at the North Pole presents White) deliver gifts while wearing protective masks. (Most of the people celebrating do not wear masks, though one family gathers for a holiday selfie wearing matching red plaid pajamas and masks.) Aside from one nighttime picture of a bright star illuminating a cross atop a church steeple, there is no religious iconography. The author avoids mention of Christian practices too, though she offers several specific suggestions for safe alternatives to traditional secular activities at the end. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 95% of actual size.)

Still a holiday to believe in—“even if believing looks a little different this year.” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-38084-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

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