Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A delectable bilingual experience.

¡VAMOS! LET'S GO EAT

From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo is tasked with nourishing nine famished luchadores.

Following ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market (2019), author/illustrator Raúl the Third and colorist Bay create a second installment in their bilingual series, ¡Vamos!, here following Little Lobo’s journey as he provides sustenance to hungry lucha libre stars. The cheerfully energetic anthropomorphic wolf reprises his role as a bike courier when he receives a message from El Toro and makes his way to el Coliseo, winding and weaving through busy streets. A mouthwatering experience follows as Little Lobo—accompanied by dog Bernabé and rooster pal Kooky Dooky—picks up tacos, diced fruit, freshly made tortillas, flan, and buñuelos from a gathering of food trucks. As in his other work, Raúl the Third imbues his pages with real-world and pop-culture references. An homage to Picasso’s Guernica, recognizable Ciudad Juárez–El Paso landmarks, a Chavo del Ocho inside a barrel, and even a Chapulín Colorado marionette all make the cut. Readers ignorant of these specifics will not feel left out: The busy pages filled with interesting characters and intriguing bilingual signage make readers wish they could jump into the pages and experience the bustling town. Bay’s comic book–style coloring and creative textures provide a deep cultural exposure to the lavish array of Mexican food throughout the spreads. After enjoying the story, readers will keep going back to savor all the minuscule details.

A delectable bilingual experience. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-55704-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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