Exploring Beijing from a bicycle’s point of view: a unique concept that doesn’t live up to its potential.



Lunzi the red bicycle races past the sights and sounds of Beijing in search of her friend Huangche, a yellow bicycle.

When Lunzi and Huangche leave the bicycle factory, they sit in a shop window watching the city and its people go by. “They wished they could stay this way forever. But one day,” a young girl comes in and buys Huangche. Soon after, a messenger boy enters the shop and picks Lunzi. The boy hops on and together they weave through narrow alleys called hutongs and race along main streets. They zip by Nanguan Park and the National Art Museum, and they fly by Tiananmen Square. Here and there Lunzi spots a flash of yellow. Is it Huangche? Sadly, no. It’s just a golden kite tail or a patch of chrysanthemums. At the end of the day, the boy stops to buy dinner. As Lunzi leans “against the brick wall with a sigh,” she spots a whoosh of yellow and fills with hope. Robeson introduces readers to basic Mandarin (in romanized pinyin) with the simple refrain “one, two; yi, er” and words like “jie” and “bao.” However, the uneven text—at times lyrical, at times faltering—fails to evoke either Lunzi’s anxiety to find her friend or the buzz and bustle of big city Beijing. Furthermore, Wu’s muted pencil illustrations, while detailed with people and fanciful architecture, don’t pop on the page.

Exploring Beijing from a bicycle’s point of view: a unique concept that doesn’t live up to its potential. (glossary, backmatter) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0764-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Droll humor that’s sure to elicit guffaws.


A bunny negotiates with a bear to avoid becoming lunch.

Burrowing along happily through the soil, a tiny white rabbit is stopped short by the beauty of a daisy. Unfortunately, a bear steps out from behind a tree at precisely the same moment. There’s no mistaking the bunny’s disappointment at the timing of the situation: “Aw, nuts.” The bear is hungry, so the quick-thinking rabbit proposes ordering a pizza. The pair share a pie, but before the bunny can leave, Bear muses, “It just doesn’t feel like a meal without dessert.” Will the bunny be dessert?! No. A chuckleworthy page turn reveals the two sharing a milkshake with giant twisty straws. Bear has many other ways of delaying the bunny’s departure until finally, the bunny loses patience: “Fine. That’s it! Just eat me already!” Flopped on a bed of greens, the bunny presents itself as a meal. But Bear has another option—perhaps they could be friends instead. The dumpy little rabbit mirrors Bear’s rotund frame; both state their arguments with deadpan precision. However, via tiny adjustments in body language, Climo masterfully includes a ton of expression behind the two protagonists’ tiny dotted eyes. Minimalist cartoon backgrounds keep the focus on the developing relationship.

Droll humor that’s sure to elicit guffaws. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31525-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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