ARK IN THE PARK

This 1994 Australian first chapter book is sure to win many hearts on this end of the Pacific Rim. Mr. and Mrs. Noah own an extraordinary pet shop called The Noahs’ Ark. Built with glass sails and a unicorn figurehead, it is full of ponies and lambs and cats and dogs. The Noahs long for grandchildren—a difficulty since they do not have children—but they love their animals and enjoy their own lives. Seven-year-old Sophie gazes longingly at The Noahs’ Ark from her apartment window. She hasn’t any cousins, and her parents are very busy with their work and her younger twin siblings. But for her seventh birthday, she asks her parents just to visit the pet shop, and off they go. Her dad’s allergic, but he enjoys being behind the scenes; her mom likes talking to someone other than the twins; and Sophie is nearly delirious with joy. Soon Sophie learns to cross the road herself—her mom watches from the window—and she becomes the Noahs’ assistant, helping to feed and care for all the pets until they find their own homes. The magic of getting what you wish for is told in graceful prose full of gentleness and whimsy; the beguiling line drawings are full of amusing details that invite closer scrutiny, especially as they work their way in and out of the text. Satisfying and most charming. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-6221-1

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

JUST THE RIGHT CAKE

A foodie’s delight, with a sweet message between the layers.

It’s all about the yum in this tale from Tosi, founder of Milk Bar, a chain of bakeries.

Now that his mom and dad are living apart, young Phil finds that his delectable double chocolate cake isn’t the same when he prepares it with just one parent at a time. Nor does making brownies with one and s’mores with the other quite butter the biscuit. His peanut butter cookie–making partner, Sammi, tells him that “every cake has a story. And sometimes stories change.” That sends him to the grocery store for inspiration and leads to a mouthwatering epiphany: “A Chocolate Brownie PB S’mores layer cake!” "New could be exciting and special,” enthuses the author before closing with a challenging but feasible recipe (with the suggestion to torch the top properly left for grown-up sous-chefs). Reinforcing the upbeat tone and positive outlook in this tale of family changes, Balsley’s cartoon illustrations depict a young patissier presenting the very picture of culinary self-confidence as he bustles about two kitchens while his parents look on affectionately and lend an occasional willing ear or hand. This one is best when dished up with sweets and a napkin, like all the better pastry-centered picture books. Phil and his father are tan-skinned, Mom is brown-skinned, and Sammi is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A foodie’s delight, with a sweet message between the layers. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780593110713

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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