A NEW YEAR'S REUNION

A CHINESE STORY

Sensitive, restrained—but festive too…with a closing note that China has over 100 million migrant workers, many separated...

Chinese New Year brings a young family joyously but all-too-briefly back together in this poignant import.

Little Maomao knows only that her father “builds big houses in faraway places” and comes home just for New Year. Though she hardly recognizes the shaggy figure at the door, by the time he’s given her and her mother gifts, gotten a haircut and a shave and made sticky rice balls (one with a lucky coin in the middle just for her) they’re an inseparable pair—repairing the windows and roof together and watching dragon dancers march past. The next day brings a round of play with friends in the snow, and the day after that Daddy packs up his rolling suitcase to leave again. In Zhu’s paintings Maomao looks a bit too young for lines like “Excellent! Mama never allows me up [on the roof] alone!” but simple patterns and bright red highlights give the inside and outside settings a particularly inviting look, and the artist captures the emotional backdrop with delicate clarity in her figures’ postures and expressions.

Sensitive, restrained—but festive too…with a closing note that China has over 100 million migrant workers, many separated from their families except during the holiday .(Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5881-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2018

Categories:

JOSÉ AND EL PERRO

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

DEAR BEAST

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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