Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley

cover for Cinnamon BabyThis is the fairytale-like story of Miriam, the Baker and Sebastian, the Violinist falling in love, being idyllically happy and then being derailed by a baby that in true, melodramatic fable style, won’t stop crying. Illustrations by Janice Nadeau show the baby crying a river that covers half of the city, show her mother doing somersaults and juggling balls as well as all the normal things—rocking, singing, reading, walking the floor—to stop the baby from crying. Finally, Miriam and Sebastian take the “dusky” baby who Sebastian knew was the “most perfect ever” to the bakery. There, she bakes all the bread she normally bakes, as always saving the cinnamon bread for last and finally, when she makes the cinnamon bread, the baby stops crying, smiles, and falls asleep. This is a story that I think many parents of newborns or who remember the newborn years will enjoy. As you read the pages of Miriam and Sebastian’s experience you may remember the days when you tried to find that perfect solution to stop the “rhythmless crying” of the little one with whom you are reading the book. As an exaggeration of that crying, ‘Cinnamon Baby’ challenges the perception that babies are “just so cute” or “bundles of joy.” This book is a fun conversation starter on babies. My 3-year-old daughter who always thinks babies are cute said, “Oh, that baby crying is so annoying but she is sooooo cute.” That conflict mirrors the conflict felt by the Cinnamon Baby’s parents and probably most parents. This is a fun read for parents and children.

Recommendation: Recommended; Ages: New Parent and 4+
Book Review by Omilaju Miranda.

Jalapeno Bagels by Natasha Wing

cover for Jalapeno BagelsWith beautiful illustrations from Robert Casilla, this story which reads like a training and orientation day in a bakery, comes to life. This is a first person narrative from Pablo, the son of a Mexican mother and Jewish father who own a bakery together. Pablo has to decide what to take to school for International Day and throughout the story as he helps his mother make Mexican pastries and his father make Jewish pastries, he questions if each pastry is the one he should take to his school. A story peppered with Pablo’s easy translations of his parents’ Spanish and Yiddish words of expression and names of food, makes one feel like they are in a regular day in the life of Pablo and his parents. On this day, Pablo decides to take Jalapeno Bagels to school because, like him, they represent the cultures of both of his parents. The back of the book contains two recipes and a glossary of the terms used throughout the book. While I think this is a valuable representation of a Mixed Heritage family of Mexican/Jewish ethnicities which gives some history of the two ethnicities, the most exciting aspect of the book is its title.

Recommendation: Unenthusiastically recommended for the sake of diversity representation; Ages 4+
Book Review by Omilaju Miranda.