NIÑO WRESTLES THE WORLD

Little luchador Niño battles out-of-this-world opponents one by one until he finally meets his match.

Niño has a big imagination and a love of lucha libre, the popular Mexican masked wrestling. While his sisters nap, he becomes an impressive luchador, facing competitors often drawn from Mexican history and folklore. The text, unfolding as if by a commentator calling the action, begs to be read aloud. Challengers are vanquished not by violence but by gentle horseplay and clever wit—until Niño meets Las Hermanitas, awake from their naps, and must quickly devise a new strategy to take on such crafty adversaries. A multiple Pura Belpré medal winner, Morales’ (Just in Case, 2008, etc.) style of illustration continues to evolve with this title. She uses a graphic approach reminiscent of a comic book, with speech bubbles and sound effects, a smart choice for moving along the action of the plot. This design will appeal to children who may struggle to find picture books that match their interests and energy level, especially boys. Trading-card–style introductions to each opponent on the endpapers include pronunciation guidance for Spanish names. Occasional challenges with text placement and page flow keep this title from being flawless, but young readers will be so engrossed with this humorous story that these issues are easy to overlook.

Sure to be a smash. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-604-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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