Picture Book Reviews
Posted on September 23, 2021 at 6:41 am by Gene Ambaum
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020. 9781419746550.
Kids and adults gather in a small kitchen to see what’s grown in the community center’s garden, what they’ve been given, and what they’ve bought, and then figure out how to turn that into a meal. The endpapers in this comic-y format picture book contain two recipes, and the inside overflows with joy despite all the hard work going on.
In an author’s note in the back, Tamaki talks about volunteering at a community kitchen in Brooklyn for years, a place that served a meal on Wednesdays. This book will inspire readers of all ages to do the same.
Blancaflor: The Hero With Secret Powers: A Latin American Folktale by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio Garcia Sánchez. Introduction by F. Isabel Campoy. TOON Books, 2021. 9781943145560.
Blancaflor and her family live in the Castle of No Return. A handsome prince is about to come play a game with her father, an ogre, but it’s a trap; when the prince loses, he’ll be eaten and her father will get his whole kingdom. On his way the prince has a bit of a mishap and falls from the sky. Blancaflor, showing off her magical powers to her sisters, saves him. It seems to be love at first sight, despite the prince being a bit of an idiot, so Blancaflor secretly helps him in the game with her father. Her dad is not happy with that, nor with the prince’s promise to marry his daughter if he wins.
This is a new graphic novel by the same team that created Lost In NYC: A Subway Adventure, my favorite TOON book. You can see a few sample pages at https://www.toon-books.com/blancaflor.html
The Runaway Pea by Kjartan Poskitt, illlustrated by Alex Willmore. Aladdin, 2021. 9781534490147.
A pea runs away from a plate of vegetables and shoots all over the house, narrowly avoiding disaster and danger until he ends up (in my favorite scene) under the fridge with a dried-up banana and two moldy grapes. The pea wants to get back on the plate, but they let him know that’s impossible. But just when everything seems hopeless it all ends well.
My family was a huge fan of Amy Krause Rosenthal’s and Jen Corace’s Little Pea, and this feels like a perfect read-alike. Plus it’s full of fun rhymes.