Your Mamaby NoNieqa Ramos; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara. 2021. Markers, pastels, Procreate, and Adobe Photoshop. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Brief summary: Young readers will read about this daughter and mother relationship through positive “your mama…” jokes; opposite of the well known “yo mama” jokes of put downs.
“Your mama so sweet, she could be a bakery”.
Comments: Written with a mix of Spanish words and current slang all woven in a fun lyrical style.
What a refreshing and clever book to build mamas up with positive traits! Great idea. The words and illustrations have a whimsical and infectious spirit. Illustrated banners. Detailed two paged illustrations.
I look forward to another of NoNieqa Ramos’s picture books being released this September 2021 titled Hair Story.
Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham; illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2021. Digitally illustrated. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: It was Spring 2020 when almost everyone all around the world went inside and stayed to be safe. Those who had to be outside were needed elsewhere. Outside had more animals coming out while the cars stayed away. What families did on the inside and outside changed.
Comments: Loved the two paged fold out at the end showing everyone outside again.
A light COVID-19 pandemic book that could be shared with elementary students and not frighten them.
Author’s Note in the back about sharing views on what the pandemic meant to her.
Brief summary: A young girl notices the different type of eyes she and her group of friends have and is aware that hers “kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea”. Her Asian eyes are like her mother’s as they laugh together. The girl then notices that her Amah’s eyes are like hers and just like her mother’s. The girl knows her Amah’s eyes when she tells stories of long ago. Mei-Mei, her younger sister, has eyes just like they do. She notices her little sister’s eyes when they play.
The young girl realizes that her eyes are like her ancestors’ and now.
Comments: The young girl experiences self awareness of her eyes and her family’s.
Beautiful yellow flowers on the end pages. Large bright illustrations. Beautiful.
The metaphor of her eyes kissing in the corners is ssssoooo precious!
Brief summary: May is dropped off by her mother at her Gong Gong’s to babysit. May is concerned, because she does not speak any Chinese nor does her grandfather speak any English. After falling asleep while watching TV, Gong Gong wakes up and puts on his coat. May goes along as they walk down the street and is introduced to various merchants and friends in her Gong Gong’s neighborhood. May thinks they are going to eat and is disappointed when they only have tea. They continue to the fish market and park. With a growling stomach and feeling grouching because she is feeling ignored, May has a temper tantrum yelling she is hungry. This causes all of the pigeons to fly up with one pooping on her. Gong Gong cleans her up and tries to calm his granddaughter.
They go sit by the fountain and eat pork buns. May hugs the stuffed monkey that her Gong Gong secretly bought for her in one of the stores they visited earlier. She did not know he was paying attention to her. They slowly go back down the street to Gong Gong’s home where May’s mother picks her up and learns a little about their day together.
Comments: What a sweet story of how a language barrier did not prevent Gong Gong and his granddaughter from forming a bond. Cute story to share for Grandparents’ Day on September 21, 2021.
Wolf Cub’s Song by Joseph Bruchac; illustrated by Carlin Bear Don’t Walk. 2020. Published by Recraftbook.
Brief summary: Wolf Cub begins to cry in her den about being left alone. Mother Wolf comes in and tells her that Grandmother Moon is beginning to come out in the sky. The two go out together where the pup sees the other wolves from their pack. The family invites her to sing to the moon, as they all ran to the top of the hill. Wolf Cub sings for the first time to the moon while the others join in her song.
Comments: The illustrations blended many colors together. The story was a cute story of a pup learning that she is not alone. She has her mother and the family wolf pack to help her through life.
Liftby Minh Lê; illustrated by Dan Santat. 2020. Published by Hyperion.
Brief summary: Iris’s job is to push the lift’s button for her family every day until one time her little brother surprisingly does it. She does not like that. The next time the family stands in front of the elevator, Iris darts out front and pushes the button for it to arrive and then all of the buttons inside of the elevator. A few days later, she notices that the maintenance man is fixing a broken elevator and throwing away the button. Iris takes it and runs up to her room where she tapes it by her closet’s door and pushes it. It dings. She goes into another world and then another. Iris decides it would be more fun to share the adventures with her little brother.
Comments: I love that the end pages have the beginning and end of the story on them instead of being the usual white.
The story is mainly told with detailed graphic illustrations.
Just Like a Mamaby Alice Faye Duncan; illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. 2020. Watercolor, gouache, colored pencil and gel pen. Published by Simon & Schuster.
Brief summary: Carol lives with Mama Rose who is just like a mama. In the absence of Carol’s biological parents, Mama Rose takes care of Carol by feeding her, teaching her how to ride a bike, and disciplines her when she decides not to follow the rules. Mama Rose loves Carol just like a mama.
Comments: “A Note From the Author” is in the back.
My Papi has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero; illustrated by Zeke Pena. 2019. Mix of hand-painted watercolor texture. Published by Kokila.
Brief summary: Daisy Ramona loves it when her Papi comes home from work to take his daughter on a motorcycle trip through their neighborhood. Daisy points out all of the highlights injecting many of the Spanish words for those special places in her life. They are disappointed to see that one of their favorite places has gone out of business. They continue waving to neighbors including her grandparents as they head to the job site where her father has been helping to build a new house. They turn to drive back home to find her brother and Mami are waiting to share a surprise that completes the ride.
Comments: This book is based on the author’s own bike rides with her father when he came home from work, and they would drove around Corona, California. The illustrator was able to successfully caption the love and admiration of the daughter towards her father, the colors and characters of the neighborhood, and the fun they had driving around on the motorcycle. Beautifully done!
Brief summary: A purple monster with a pink and blue striped outfit alphabetically eats through things in the house beginning with Apples and then ending up feeling sick at Q for Queasy. The father comes in and gives the monster child foods that are to help the stomach-ache until “V” happens in which the monster is put to bed.
Comments: The creature could be any child that overeats everything in the house until a big stomach-ache occurs. It is nice to see an ABC concept book with a story. End pages have a large upper cased blocked ABCs. The back flap has a cartoon of Mo Willems with his brief bio sketch.
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Loveby Matt de la Pena; illustrated by Loren Long. 2018. Collaged monotype prints, acrylic paint and pencil. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Brief summary: The book begins with two parents looking straight at the reader but are actually peering into a crib. They are the beginning of love. You, for a moment, are the baby seeing his/her parents for the first time. Readers journey through the book relating and recalling the various types of loves we have(or will if the reader is a child) in life through the quiet poem and illustrations.
Comments: (My resource for reviewing picture books are from my public library, so it took a while for my name to come up in the long reserve list for this book that released in January). The illustrations are diverse and multicultural with scenes from various families’ lives and times when love is displayed and shared. The concepts may be a bit mature for very young children. Older elementary students will understand and relate to those times they experienced love.
I feel this is one of those picture books adults will enjoy too, as they can relate and experience all of those situations when love was experienced–in good times and bad. I believe this will be a good “going-off-to-college” or graduation gift as the ending talks about leaving the family but having love on the new journey.
I am including this book trailer where both author and illustrator beautifully share their ideas for this book.