As the book ends, Maya’s daughter is sleeping under “her own special, magical manta.” Readers may be eager to tell their own...


A familiar tale crosses cultures with almost magical ease.

The story is based on the well-known Jewish folk tale in which an old, worn coat is turned into a jacket, then a vest, then a tie, here given a warm, Latino spin. Not only does Brown’s text alternate passages in English with sections in Spanish translated by Domínguez, but on some pages, nearly every sentence is written in two languages: “Maya made her manta into a vestido that she loved very much.” The effect isn’t subtle, and at first, every paragraph feels like a vocabulary lesson. But as the sentences get longer, the language becomes hypnotic. As Maya’s blanket is recut and resewn, the words begin to sound like an incantation: “So with her own two hands and Abuelita’s help, Maya made her rebozo that was her falda that was her vestido that was her manta into a bufanda that she loved very much.” It sounds like a magic spell to preserve the garment for all time. Sometimes spells work: Maya turns the blanket into a story, the same picture book that is in readers’ hands. Diaz’s beautiful, mixed-media illustrations feel like another sort of magic. The moon looks like a pomegranate. A spinning jump rope looks like water shooting from a fountain.

As the book ends, Maya’s daughter is sleeping under “her own special, magical manta.” Readers may be eager to tell their own versions of the story—that’s how magic works. (author’s note, glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-89239-292-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.


From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.


Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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