Children will best appreciate this nostalgic journey when accompanied by a doting loved one

READ REVIEW

DON'T CALL ME GRANDMA

Scary grandmas are always called “grandMOTHER,” especially if they are 96-year-old great-grandmothers who have “chocolaty brown” skin and are named Nell and sometimes growl into their mirrors.

This little girl’s great-grandmother is glamorous and has wigs, earrings, and “bottles and bottles and bottles of perfume.” Nelson’s young protagonist is mesmerized by her great-grandmother’s rituals, from posing in her bathing suit on the beach to applying ruby red lipstick. Even though her great-grandmother is old, the young girl knows she is “not worn out.” Nell, who never hugs or kisses, still deigns to share beauty tips and stories of long ago. Zunon’s mixed-media illustrations of paper collage, pastel, and watercolor lend warmth to this tender story of an aging dragon of a diva and her great-grandchild. The facial expressions span the emotional gamut from pique to sorrow to haughtiness and are all spot-on. When Nell reminisces, vague watercolor impressions evoke the perfect tone of wistfulness. Black-and-white photo reproductions accompany brief recollections of the civil rights movement. But the sterling moment shines at the very end of the story when the grandchild steals a kiss with no remorse. “Even asleep, Great-Grandmother Nell is scary. But I like her that way. I give her a little hug. She smells like peaches. I kiss my grandma. // She won’t know.”

Children will best appreciate this nostalgic journey when accompanied by a doting loved one . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4208-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

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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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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