Though the series continues, readers are not likely to want to meet Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick again.

BACKPACKS!

From the Freckleface Strawberry series

Two students learn to own up to their mistakes—and not to put gum or doughnuts in their backpacks—in actor Moore’s new early-reader series.

Freckleface Strawberry loves bugs, and her backpack has bugs on it. Inside, she has pencils, homework, and gum. Similarly, Windy Pants Patrick (readers don’t find out the reason for the name) loves dogs, and his backpack contains pencils, homework, and a doughnut. Their parents (mom and dad for Freckleface, two moms for Patrick) don’t know the kids have added snacks to their bags. The next day at school, when it’s time to hand in their homework, the two learn why it’s such a bad idea. The teacher praises their maps, thinking they’ve added mountains, but after school, they own up to the truth. While Moore uses short sentences, repetition, and relatively easy vocabulary (aside from her characters’ names), those are not the only ingredients for a successful early reader. Readers also want a compelling story and interesting, three-dimensional characters, both of which are seriously lacking here. Pham’s illustrations are serviceable and feature people with brightly colored hair and skin that lacks color—they are all literally white, save a single brown girl with black hair.

Though the series continues, readers are not likely to want to meet Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick again. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-39195-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and...

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THUNDER BOY JR.

Thunder Boy Smith Jr. hates his name.

The Native American boy is named after his father, whose nickname is Big Thunder. Thunder Boy Jr. says his nickname, Little Thunder, makes him "sound like a burp or a fart." Little Thunder loves his dad, but he longs for a name that celebrates something special about him alone. He muses, “I love playing in the dirt, so maybe my name should be Mud in His Ears.…I love powwow dancing. I’m a grass dancer. So maybe my name should be Drums, Drums, and More Drums!” Little Thunder wonders how he can express these feelings to his towering father. However, he need not worry. Big Thunder knows that the time has come for his son to receive a new name, one as vibrant as his blossoming personality. Morales’ animated mixed-media illustrations, reminiscent of her Pura Belpré Award–winning work in Niño Wrestles the World (2013), masterfully use color and perspective to help readers see the world from Little Thunder’s point of view. His admiration of his dad is manifest in depictions of Big Thunder as a gentle giant of a man. The otherwise-muted palette bursts with color as Thunder Boy Jr. proudly enumerates the unique qualities and experiences that could inspire his new name.

An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and son. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-01372-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season.

THE HOUSE OF LOVE

In a big, old house on a snowy hill, the Amore family of nine celebrates Valentine's Day.

Mia Valentina, the youngest family member, and Mama clean the house and decorate for the Amores’ favorite holiday. Then Mia’s mother helps her make thoughtful but funny valentines for her 6 siblings. When Papa and the rest of the clan return home from a basketball game, Mia’s siblings get a kick out of their valentines, and Papa presents Mama with chocolate cherry cordials, but no one gives Mia a gift. While the family has dinner and plays games, Mia’s sadness seemingly goes unnoticed. It’s not until bedtime that she makes a discovery that chases away her gloom. The pages of this book are text-heavy, making it a good springboard for young readers making the transition to chapter books. The light pink pages, cheerful illustrations, and homespun authenticity of the text will appeal to children. The cozy Appalachian mountain setting shines through. Crafty types will glean inspiration to create a gumdrop tree, custom valentines, or themed cupcakes. Mentions of an antique washing machine and patched-up windows establish the Amores as a working-class family. The old house and large family could be read as standard storybook fare or, by more critical readers, as a romanticized image of rural life, and the didactic ending feels old-fashioned. The Amores are White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season. (Illustrated text. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20331-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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