HOCKEY NIGHT IN KENYA

Kenyan orphan Kitoo discovers ice hockey through his love of reading.

When the librarian at the orphanage offers Kitoo some old books that will be discarded, he is thrilled to own books. One of the books about sports shows people playing ice hockey. The librarian, Mrs. Kyatha, explains what ice is and tells him that people play roller hockey in a park in a nearby city. Kitoo is enthralled, but even with his active imagination and hopefulness, he is sure he will never get to see hockey in real life. But on his next trip to the city with the orphanage’s driver, he finds a way to go to the park and watch the hockey players, and on his way out, he finds discarded roller blades in the trash. He brings the skates home, gets help fixing them, and practices skating until he is skilled. His best friend, Nigosi, encourages him to hope that he may see ice one day, but Kitoo’s imagination won’t stretch that far. But with some help from mentors and his friend, he gets to visit the only ice rink in all of East Africa. This simple story of discovery, sport, and friendship is filled with likable characters and innocently joyful moments. Its basis in the real-life Hope Development Centre orphanage (founded by co-author Mutinda’s parents) makes its themes of hope, hard work, kindness, and triumph all the more memorable. Full- and half-page black-and-white illustrations bring the boys’ adventures to life.

Delightful. (Fiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2361-7

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

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 rallying cry for anyone looking for a strong example of perseverance.

MAYA AND THE BEAST

Brazilian surfer Gabeira offers a fictionalized version of her childhood with this story of an adventurous young girl who overcomes sexism and self-doubt to become a great athlete.

The inhabitants of the fishing village of Nazaré, Portugal, are in awe of a massive wave known as the Beast. A young villager named Maya has asthma and brings medicine with her wherever she goes; though shy, Maya finds fulfillment when moving her body during dancing, gymnastics, and swimming. Having grown up hearing about the Beast, she goes to see it for herself and is in awe of the massive wave, though she also notices boys surfing on it. Maya decides to try surfing, which her father encourages. The boys at the beach tell her surfing is no sport for girls, and she nearly believes them until a voice in a seashell tells her not to give up. Both text and illustrations offer a stirring account of Maya’s journey to surfing mastery. The Beast begins as a spectacle from afar, filling the page with its sheer scope. Maya is often framed within or beneath its crest, including a wonderful scene of her would-be hecklers watching dumbfounded as she joyously surfs ahead of them. Maya and her family are brown-skinned; for the most part, other residents of Nazaré range in skin color from tan to brown. In an author’s note, Gabeira describes growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and, in 2007, setting a Guinness record for the largest wave ever surfed at Praia de Norte in Nazaré. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A rallying cry for anyone looking for a strong example of perseverance. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-6000-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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