One of the best of its genre; attractive and informative, and a must for the growing Chinese New Year shelf.

POPO'S LUCKY CHINESE NEW YEAR

PoPo helps her granddaughter learn Chinese New Year traditions in this intergenerational celebration of family and culture.

When PoPo arrives from China, preparations for Chinese New Year, a holiday that’s like “Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all bundled together,” begin. Everything, from what one cooks and wears to how one cleans and decorates, is important to this age-old custom. As PoPo explains the symbolism behind each gesture, her Chinese-American granddaughter reacts with an honesty and effort that will captivate readers. The child’s candid responses, both humorous and endearing, make the holiday’s rituals accessible—whether she’s sweeping her baby brother out with the bad luck (before bringing him back in and lovingly rubbing his “big Buddha belly”), greedily eating seconds for a long life, or acting like a cash register, yelling “Cha Ching!” when red envelopes with money are being distributed. Benoit’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are extremely appealing. They exude warmth—both in the way she draws her characters and with her palette selection and how she thoughtfully applies her colors. Everything has a softness to it, drawing readers in, until they too feel embraced by the girl who cuddles her baby brother and the grandmother who is passing her heritage on to her kin. With running commentary on common practices included on each spread and an art activity at the end, Loh-Hagen offers a comprehensive idea of what Chinese New Year is about, couched within an authentic Chinese-American experience.

One of the best of its genre; attractive and informative, and a must for the growing Chinese New Year shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-978-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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SCAREDY SQUIRREL HAS A BIRTHDAY PARTY

From the Scaredy Squirrel series , Vol. 5

When Scaredy Squirrel plans a party, he concentrates on maximum security, not maximum fun. His checklist: "Confirm date of birth; pick a safe location; choose party colors; get tuxedo dry-cleaned; prepare cake recipe; practice breathing (to blow up balloons/blow out candles); mail party invitation to myself." That's right—there’s only one guest at Scaredy's birthday party, and it's himself. But when his chum Buddy sends him a birthday card, he reconsiders his guest list to include his pal, even making the momentous decision to hold his party on the ground instead of in his tree. Replete with the lists and diagrams that are this OCD rodent's hallmarks, the story unfolds with both humor and some useful etiquette tips. From conversational gambits (good: "If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?"; bad: "Is that a muskrat on your head? Oops... it's a toupee") to the "dos and don'ts of partying" (do: sit quietly; don't: double-dip), kids will find much to laugh at and think about. Typically (for a Scaredy adventure), despite a plan so complete it includes tooth-brushing breaks, a surprise happens—party animals show up! Watt’s wry digital illustrations make the most of the perceived mayhem, using a host of graphic conventions to tell her story. There's no question it's a formula by now, but it's still a winning one. Many happy returns, Scaredy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55453-468-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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