The cupboard is nearly bare of children’s books about the DMZ, making this an excellent introduction to the crises on the...

WHEN SPRING COMES TO THE DMZ

This bittersweet picture book walks through the four seasons at Korea’s heavily weaponized demilitarized zone, celebrating the nature that thrives there while mourning the human cost of this border wall.

Although the story does not even define or discuss the DMZ or the Korean War, colorful illustrations reveal to young readers the long fences of razor wire hugging a beautiful mountainside. But because no humans are allowed in this 2.5-mile-wide, 150-mile-long buffer zone, the area has unintentionally become a nature sanctuary. The water deer, striped salmon, and mountain goats know no limitations to their habitat, crossing borders, swimming under barbed wire, and nesting near land mines. Their freedom, together with many references to home and family, stand in stark contrast to the military exercises that have continued through the cease-fire since 1953. Lee views this irony through the character of elderly Grandfather, who makes his way to the wall every season, gazing longingly upon his inaccessible former homeland. A foldout reveal at book’s end is symbolic of the hope of a reunified Korea, with a simple reunion embrace representing the dreams of families separated since the 1950s. The endnote provides needed background along with a plea for peace and freedom.

The cupboard is nearly bare of children’s books about the DMZ, making this an excellent introduction to the crises on the Korean Peninsula as well as a great choice for social justice collections, peace promoters, and animal lovers. (Picture book. 4-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-87486-972-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Plough

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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