K IS FOR KITE

GOD’S SPRINGTIME ALPHABET

In her first picture book, Gatto offers cheerful, brilliantly colored paintings of children celebrating springtime and Easter pursuits. Her illustrations have a flattened perspective and a childlike simplicity well suited to an abecedary. The text is structured with each letter matched to one springtime item in traditional alphabet-book style, with a rhyming couplet further describing the item included at the top of the spread. The text sometimes struggles with logic, and some rhymes just don’t scan; some verses include God and his influence while others just celebrate springtime. Some illustrations do not have an exact picture-to-text correlation: For example, “C is for caterpillars,” yet there is only one caterpillar in the illustration. Parents and preschoolers will enjoy the joyous, fresh illustrations and the basic alphabet format, as long as they’re not too picky about details. (Religion/picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-310-71662-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A simplistic, outdated take on Diwali for young children.

BINNY'S DIWALI

It’s Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and Binny can’t wait to tell her class about her favorite holiday.

On their way through their North American suburb to school, Binny’s mother wishes her luck and reminds her to tell her class about the oil lamps that are a central part of their family’s Diwali tradition. But when Binny’s teacher, Mr. Boomer, invites her to share, Binny freezes, overcome with shyness. Taking a deep breath, she remembers her mother’s advice. The thought of the world filled with light—symbolizing the triumph of good over evil—gives Binny the strength she needs to tell her family’s Diwali story. While the book is thorough in its description of traditions like wearing new clothes, eating sweets, lighting lamps, and decorating floors and sidewalks with colored powder, the prose is clunky and clumsy, and Binny’s conflict is resolved so quickly that the story arc feels limp and uninteresting.  Other elements of the text are troubling as well. Calling Binny’s new clothes an “Indian outfit,” for example, erases the fact that the kurta she wears is typical of the entire South Asian subcontinent. The use of most fireworks, which the author treats as an essential part of the holiday, is now banned in India due to concerns about pollution and child labor. Most problematically of all, the author continually treats Diwali as a Hindu holiday celebrated by “everyone,” which is untrue in India or in diaspora and which dangerously equates Hindu and Indian identity. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads reviewed at 49% of actual size.)

A simplistic, outdated take on Diwali for young children. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36448-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Utterly artless but familiar; good for families whose children are nuts for Muppets.

GROVER AND BIG BIRD'S PASSOVER CELEBRATION

The well-known Sesame Street characters visit Israel and impart information about the Passover holiday and story while on their way to a seder at the home of friends Avigail and Brosh.

After a flat tire on the bus, Grover and Big Bird decide to walk, only to get lost. On the way, they help a boy catch his runaway dog, carry groceries for an elderly woman, and convince the grouchy Moishe Oofnik to finally give them a ride to the seder with the promise of eating bitter herbs. “My favorite! Hop in.”  Forced segues within this light-as-a-feather plot lead to snippets of information about the holiday and the celebratory dinner’s traditions, such as the Four Questions, the afikomen ritual and the theme of freedom. For example, worried about being late, Big Bird frets, “Yes, but now we’d really better hurry.” Grover replies, “Did you know…that the Jewish people were in a hurry when they followed Moses out of Egypt?” Familiar Muppet figures fill the commercial-looking illustrations. Bold primary colors depict Grover and Big Bird’s journey; thought-bubble sequences of the ancient Exodus are populated by bewildered-looking generic Muppet faces. Once the seder is complete, an enlightened Big Bird expresses his appreciation and wish to celebrate next year in Jerusalem.

Utterly artless but familiar; good for families whose children are nuts for Muppets. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8491-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more