A sweet picture book about forming family ties across oceans.

WHERE THREE OCEANS MEET

Sejal, her mother, and her grandmother are planning a trip to Kanyakumari, a city at the southernmost edge of India, where “three oceans meet.”

Sejal and Mommy live in the United States and Pati in Bangalore, so while Sejal has a lot in common with her grandmother, they are also very different. When they are packing for their trip, for example, Sejal packs shorts and T-shirts while her grandmother packs 9-yard saris typical of southern Brahmin households. Sejal speaks mostly English while her grandmother speaks a mix of English, Tamil, and Kannada. On their way to Kanyakumari, Sejal and her family get to experience iconic cities in Tamil Nadu. In the coastal city of Chennai, they eat dosa. In Coimbatore, they visit relatives over tea. In Madurai, they visit one of southern India’s most famous Hindu temples. In between these cities, they stop to sip tender coconut, shop at a typical market, and gaze at the countryside from the windows of a train. These sights are all realized in Sreenivasan’s sunny, affectionate illustrations, and they appear again on a closing map that traces the journey. Finally, they reach Kanyakumari, where they witness three oceans coming together just like three generations of their family. The book’s text is a celebration of intergenerational, border-crossing love, and the analogy between the three oceans and the three female protagonists works well. 

A sweet picture book about forming family ties across oceans. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4129-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime.

ELBOW GREASE VS. MOTOZILLA

Who needs sanity when you’ve got family?

The title character of Elbow Grease (2018) and his family of Demolition Derby trucks return to face an all-new competitor. Once again, ’Bo is feeling inadequate next to his fan-favorite brothers. Despite Mel the Mechanic’s encouragement—he’s “the best at getting better”—he wants to be noticed. But instead, he notices someone unavoidable. Motozilla, the monster machine that turns trucks “into crunch sandwiches,” is currently undefeated. Trouble is, you’d need a truck with an array of skills to take him down. Thinking fast, ’Bo makes the wild and somewhat improbable suggestion that he and his brothers join together to form a single supertruck. Will it be enough to take down this bully? Quips, jests, and teamwork are the name of the game as pro wrestler Cena improves on his writing in this second outing, which demonstrates that individual glory falls in the face of concentrated cooperation. Rollicking, radical art portrays the battle in all its gritty glory, mud and twisted metal galore. Human crowds show a diverse range of races and genders, and the trucks’ keeper, Mel, has light-brown skin and wears glasses.

Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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