JUST THE TWO OF US

The lyrics from Smith’s rap (of the same title) are beautifully illustrated here in this selection for one-on-one reading that celebrates the bond between father and son. Nelson (Big Jabe, 2000, etc.) uses a broad palette in his pencil and oil paintings to capture emotion and gesture in close-up or landscape views. The pictures are full of light, shadows, and love. He shows the father and the growing son of Smith’s text playing ball and trimming hair, as the father advises, “Throughout life people will make you mad / Disrespect you and treat you bad. / Let God deal with the things they do / ’Cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” Smith “standardized” some of the grammar in his text, which still needs to be read aloud, and with a beat. Different font size throughout a line indicates emphasis, and makes the words seem to move on the page. Though general in sentiment, the text is specific of an individual pair: “It didn’t work out with me and your mom / But yo, when push comes to shove / You were conceived in love.” This might make reading awkward for happily married fathers, but it’s a unique and beautiful title, and for some it will fit the bill. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-08792-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

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 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A sweet and entertaining series opener about family and friendship.

NINA SONI, FORMER BEST FRIEND

From the Nina Soni series , Vol. 1

Nina is worried that her best friend, Jay, might not be her best friend anymore.

Nina Soni has been best friends with Jay Davenport since before she was born. But when Jay’s cousins move to town, he has less and less time for Nina—so little time, in fact, that she wonders if they’re still best friends. Nina is so distracted that she forgets about her Personal Narrative Project, an assignment in which Nina is supposed to write about something interesting that’s happened to her. At first, Nina wonders how she’ll ever write the essay when her family—and, by extension, her life—is so boring. But when Jay announces that he’s going to write the best PNP ever, Nina sees his challenge as a way to recover their friendship. Sheth’s language is poetic in its simplicity, and her narratorial voice is a pleasure to read. The book particularly sparkles whenever Nina interacts with her small but tightknit family, especially when she has to rescue her quirky younger sister, Kavita, from endless scrapes. The conflict between Nina and Jay, however, feels forced and tangential to the story, which really centers on Nina’s personal narrative and her loving, albeit exasperating, relationship with her family. Both Nina and Jay are Indian American; she on both sides of her family and he through his mother (his father is white).

A sweet and entertaining series opener about family and friendship. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68263-057-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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