A nostalgic glimpse at a little-known but rich culture within the broader Jewish American community.

TÍA FORTUNA'S NEW HOME

A JEWISH CUBAN JOURNEY

A young Cuban American girl learns the real meaning of home in this poignant story drawing on the real-life history of Cuba’s Sephardic Jews.

Estrella loves to visit her aunt, Tía Fortuna, in her little pink house at the Seaway in Miami. Tía Fortuna once lived “on the other side of the sea, in Havana,” Cuba. When she “had to leave” her home (a closing author’s note pinpoints the Cuban Revolution as the cause), she took only a suitcase of old photographs, her mezuzah (prayer scroll) from her doorpost, and “a key to a home gone forever.” Now, years later, she must move once again, this time to an assisted living facility. While Estrella spends time with her aunt at the seaside and helps her pack, she listens to her life stories, learns about the cultural and religious significance of her most prized possessions, and ultimately learns that, like her ancestors, she can find hope wherever life takes her. This heartfelt intergenerational story illuminates a lesser-known facet of Jewish American immigration. Ladino (i.e., Judeo-Spanish) words are seamlessly integrated into the dialogue between aunt and niece, and Behar weaves Sephardic symbols and traditions into the narrative. For example, Tía Fortuna wears a lucky-eye bracelet (a Sephardic Jewish talisman) and serves borekas (a Sephardic Jewish pastry). Detailed paintings, rendered in gouache, watercolor, and color pencil with digital finishing, skillfully move the visual narrative between the past and the present. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A nostalgic glimpse at a little-known but rich culture within the broader Jewish American community. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-17241-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child.

ALWAYS WITH YOU, ALWAYS WITH ME

Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer/songwriter Rowland teams up with California teacher McKay to celebrate busy moms.

This picture book highlights a mother’s frequent longing to be with her child when life’s demands pull them apart. The story takes us through a busy Black mom’s week: She goes to work (at a construction site where she appears to be an engineer), works from home on her son’s sick day, takes him to a museum, and shares domestic duties with her Black male partner, who is a nurse. She encounters many bumps in the road that will be familiar to working parents. Each day, she gently reassures her son with a lyrical refrain: “Always with you, / Always with me, / Mommy and child / Together we’ll be.” This tender story, narrated in the voice of a mother addressing her child, pulls at the heartstrings. Liem’s digital artwork uses a warm palette and has a calming quality. The characters’ body language and heartfelt facial expressions are spot-on. This book will resonate with any mom who knows the heartache of having to say goodbye to their child or who has faced the teary-eyed frustration of a youngster experiencing separation anxiety. Young readers, on the other hand, will find solace in the reassuring narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46551-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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