Wonderfully entertaining and inspiring.

SMALL ROOM, BIG DREAMS

THE JOURNEY OF JULIÁN AND JOAQUIN CASTRO

Before they were twins in the political arena, Julián and Joaquin Castro were kids whose mother and grandmother sowed the seeds of their big dreams.

This biographical narration of their early years traces a natural path through the seemingly inevitable political journey of the Castro brothers, who channeled their competitive personalities (challenging each other in both tennis and student senate elections) into public service and the betterment of their own community. They are seen as following the example set by the two women who came before them: their maternal grandmother, Victoriana—who crossed the border at 7 and then dropped out of school in third grade but nevertheless valued education as a means to succeed—and their single mother, Rosie, who knew she needed a seat at the decision-making table and fought to get it, breaking glass ceilings for both women and Mexican Americans. Brown includes important context on migration, the often forgotten segregation targeting Mexicans and other Spanish-speaking populations, and the poor city planning that often affects marginalized communities. Ortega complements the narrative with details in the illustrations that emphasize the struggles that the Castro family overcame to achieve their successes, beginning in the small room the twins shared with their grandmother. Some Spanish is naturally introduced in the text and supported by context clues, and a glossary in the backmatter provides translations. A Spanish edition publishes simultaneously. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43.2% of actual size.)

Wonderfully entertaining and inspiring. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-298573-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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