Simultaneously confronts homophobia and celebrates child-powered change in Hindu communities: a delight.

RITU WEDS CHANDNI

Ayesha loves her cousin Ritu, and she loves weddings. So naturally, on Ritu didi’s wedding day, Ayesha is bursting with excitement!

Except that Ritu’s is no ordinary Hindu wedding: Instead of marrying a man, Ritu is marrying her girlfriend, Chandni. This means that Ritu will be leading the baraat, a celebratory procession full of music and dancing that, in Hindu weddings, is traditionally led by the groom. But it also means that many of Ayesha’s family shun the wedding, that neighbors shout unkind words at the baraat as it goes by, and that strangers turn hoses on the wedding party to try to stop the festivities. When Ayesha sees the way that the world treats her favorite cousin, she is heartbroken—but she is also determined. In the end, it is Ayesha’s love for her family—and commitment to every minute of wedding fun—that saves the day. The book’s well-paced, heartfelt narration deftly celebrates the power of resistance without shirking the harsh realities of homophobia in many traditional Hindu communities. The vivid, authentic illustrations, which implicitly set the book in India, showcase a variety of skin colors and body types in a true reflection of South Asia’s diversity. Ayesha’s unconditional love for her cousin and her spunky insistence on continuing with the wedding ceremonies even in the face of intense hatred are moving and inspiring.

Simultaneously confronts homophobia and celebrates child-powered change in Hindu communities: a delight. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949528-94-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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