What’s “between us and Abuela”? The same thing that’s between the U.S. and Mexico—an 18-to-30–foot-high double fence.

BETWEEN US AND ABUELA

A FAMILY STORY FROM THE BORDER

A Christmas fairy tale set at the border wall.

María and Juan get on a border-bound bus with their mother. They haven’t seen Abuela in five years. Both children have made gifts: a knitted scarf from María and a drawing of Mary and Joseph on cardboard from Juan. Arriving at the annual Posada Sin Fronteras event (the Inn Without Borders), the children must wait their turn in order to have 30 minutes with Abuela. Touching pinkies through a metal grid, they exchange love and family news. When it’s time to say their goodbyes, María starts feeding the scarf through the small holes in the fence. A border patrol officer intercepts and takes the scarf. “We can’t let anything through the fence.” Orchestrating the requisite Christmas “miracle” to convey howling Juan’s gift to his grandmother occupies about half the book and veers into fantasy. The sister transforms her brother’s artwork into a kite with the knitting needles MacGyver-ed into spine and cross spar. With the unlikely encouragement of the officers, María successfully flies the kite over both the primary and secondary border fences/walls—which is against the law. To the triumphant shouts of the crowd on both sides of the border, Abuela gets her happy ending. Perkins’ fictionalized account of the actual annual gatherings at San Diego’s Friendship Park paired with Palacios’ chirpy illustrations inadvertently belie the heartbreak and human suffering played out every year.

What’s “between us and Abuela”? The same thing that’s between the U.S. and Mexico—an 18-to-30–foot-high double fence. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30373-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A full-hearted valentine.

THIS IS A SCHOOL

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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