A storytelling feast for the whole family, no matter where you live.

LET ME FIX YOU A PLATE

A TALE OF TWO KITCHENS

A feast for the eyes prepared in kitchens brimming with familial love.

Three children with light-brown skin and dark brown hair join their parents (Mommy resembles the kids; Daddy’s White) on a family vacation. They drive first to West Virginia mountains filled with misty morning fog, Papaw’s coffee with cream but no sugar, and Mamaw’s vanilla wafer cookies. A few days later, they proceed to a little orange house in Florida with Spanish-speaking Abuela and Abuelo and naranjas to pick. Each set of grandparents greets the family with open arms, a welcoming kitchen, and familiar, comforting interactions that demonstrate a persistent closeness despite miles and time apart. Though the visits are short, the experiences are deep and continue to resonate throughout the long drive home. The journey is told on multiple levels across pictures and text that entice readers, like the mouthwatering portrayals of home-cooked meals prepared and served by two extended families and two cultures. Lilly’s loose yet warm illustration style, awash in a rainbow of colors and textures, captures the love in these families. A third, hybrid kitchen is revealed at home, when the family returns and mixes the journey’s experiences into a big plate of waffles to be gobbled up before bed. Various important family items are portrayed and labeled throughout the book to encourage readers to go back and find them in the story.

A storytelling feast for the whole family, no matter where you live. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4325-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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