A scrumptious treat to be savored and enjoyed, just like a fine holiday dinner.

MIRACLE ON 133RD STREET

On Christmas Eve, a large apartment house on 133rd Street in the Bronx becomes the site of a multicultural neighborhood party.

Manzano, a Pura Belpré honoree and Maria on Sesame Street, teams up with Caldecott honoree Priceman for this vibrant story. The setting is the apartment of a Puerto Rican family preparing their special Christmas Eve dinner. Mami is trying to cook a huge roast, but it won’t fit in her small oven. Papi and José decide to take the roast to their friend who owns a pizzeria to see if he can help. On their way, they meet several neighbors and friends of different ages and ethnic groups; all are stressed, lonely, or worried about money. When the father and son return with the cooked roast, its delicious aroma transforms everyone who smells it, wafting them along on swirls of contented delight. They all float up the stairs to the apartment for a Christmas Eve dinner, fitting everyone into just one small apartment—a Christmas miracle. The polished text uses dramatic pacing, dialogue, emotion, and characterization to excellent effect. Priceman’s dazzling illustrations are filled with pulsating energy, glowing colors, and the radiant smiles of the neighbors who find community together. A magical, hopeful vitality permeates the art, reflected in multiple swirling elements wound through the illustrations.

A scrumptious treat to be savored and enjoyed, just like a fine holiday dinner. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-689-87887-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A lovely story of giving and community founded in Nigerian culture. Delectable.

THANK YOU, OMU!

Omu makes a stew so delicious everyone in the neighborhood follows their noses to her door.

Omu (which means “queen” in Igbo—Omu is black) is making a “thick red stew in a big fat pot” for her dinner. She tastes it, saying it’ll be the most delicious supper she’s ever had, while out the window drifts the scent of the “scrumptious” stew until it reaches a little boy. The story is peppered with synonyms for “scrumptious” (itself repeated throughout), allowing readers the chance to discuss and expand vocabulary. When the little boy follows the smell to Omu’s door, she kindly offers to share her stew with him. So begins a veritable parade of neighborhood residents who, led by the smell, end up at Omu’s door. The collage art adds texture, depth, and distinctiveness to each character. Omu shares her thick red stew with all and receives grateful thanks in reply. Alas, when Omu looks for her own supper, she finds her pot empty. The expressive illustrations convey her despondency as she answers yet another knock at her door to find…that the multiracial neighbors she shared with are back! This time, they have gifts in hand and are ready to make her a wonderful supper, which turns into another shared meal and a dance party.

A lovely story of giving and community founded in Nigerian culture. Delectable. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-43124-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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