A wonderful book that humanizes refugees through a focus on joy in everyday life, even in asylum.

A FEAST FOR JOSEPH

A resettled refugee kid loves his people’s ways of life and strives to feel at home in his new country.

Joseph’s memories of the tented refugee camp in East Africa, where he used to live, are full of people eating together, dancing, and playing. In his new city, likely in North America, he especially misses the presence of a crowd of people when eating. He tries to invite others to join him and his mother over food, but his relatives, math teacher, and neighbors are all busy. Whoosh, his cheerful neighbor, an Afro-Latinx girl with ribbons in her curly hair, is excited about the food Joseph brings to school: kwon and dek ngor, traditional to his Acholi people of South Sudan and northern Uganda. Colorful dynamic illustrations, including portrayals of food aromas that ignite Joseph’s memories, “white gold” moonlight, and people laughing and dancing, create an uplifting, fun, and energized vibe throughout the book. Featured children and adults are mostly black and brown, and Joseph’s and Whoosh’s mothers wear fabrics with printed floral or geometric designs, including those associated with the African continent. A glossary explains vocabulary possibly new to some readers. At last, Whoosh and her mami join for dinner, bringing food of their own. The kids help prepare a feast where friendship grows and Joseph finds a feeling of home. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A wonderful book that humanizes refugees through a focus on joy in everyday life, even in asylum. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-438-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more