A cultural holiday is honored and celebrated in this charming counting book.

LA CATRINA

NUMBERS / NÚMEROS

Explore Día de los Muertos while counting items associated with the festivities.

In another engaging bilingual board-book primer from Lil' Libros, a friendly skeleton presents decorations, treats, and important mementos central to the Mexican holiday of remembrance for the dead. The iconic figure of La Catrina, an elegantly dressed skeleton woman originally created by Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada in the early 1900s, is given a cute and colorful makeover that pays homage to the original lithograph while appealing to modern children. The items chosen to illustrate each number from one to 10 range from the spiritual to the culinary and provide a broad, if simplified, overview of the important cultural aspects of Día de los Muertos. Readers can count "three pieces of pan de muerto / tres piezas de pan de muerto" as well as vases of marigolds, family portraits, fruit baskets, and ancestors. Simple text in both English and Spanish introduces new vocabulary and provides an excellent introduction to the time-honored celebration for young readers. A pleasing color palette of deep oranges, purples, and earth tones is fitting for the autumn observance.

A cultural holiday is honored and celebrated in this charming counting book. (Board book. 0-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9479-7175-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Lil' Libros

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival.

DIWALI

From the Celebrate the World series

Diwali, the festival of lights, a five-day celebration that has many different forms, is celebrated in different ways across India and in many other countries.

This board book cursorily presents the different rituals associated with this celebration of the Hindu New Year, including getting the house ready to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; decorating the house with rangoli and diyas; and celebrating with family, friends, fireworks, and good food. The text is simple and gives only very basic information. “On the fifth and final day of Diwali, we celebrate brothers and sisters. The lifelong bond between siblings is special, and we honor that.” The illustrations show four different sets of siblings celebrating each other in different ways, none of which are mentioned in the text, making it difficult for younger readers to understand the complexity of the celebration. Sreenivasan’s illustrations are colorful, detailed, and authentic, and they carry the book. They feature happy and smiling dark-haired people with a range of skin tones, diverse in ethnicity and dress. In bright, vivid colors, intergenerational families and friends from different regions come alive, dressed up in their colorful best, celebrating and enjoying the festival together in different ways. The board format of this title does not match the age range and conceptual level of the text.

Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1990-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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