Review: Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane

deep in the sahara

Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

Released October 8, 2013.

Lalla wants to wear a malafa just like the other women in her family do.  Lalla tells her mother she wants to be beautiful just like her, but her mother says that a malafa is about more than beauty.  Lalla tells her sister that she wants to be mysterious just like her, but her sister says that a malafa is about more than mystery.  Seeing all of the women in their malafa, Lalla tells her cousin that she wants to be like all of them, but she replies that a malafa is more than that.  Her grandmother too says that a malafa is about more than tradition.  Finally, Lalla goes back to her mother and explains that she wants to be able to pray like her mother does.  Her mother agrees, saying “A malafa is for faith."  And the two face east and pray together in their malafa.

Set in Mauritania, this book celebrates the Muslim faith in a very beautiful way.  Written in the second person, readers are invited to see themselves as Lalla and learn about her faith and her world.  Cunnane writes beautiful descriptions of both the malafa themselves and also the community where Lalla lives.  There are donkeys, camels, and other exotic things, but Cunnane goes deeper than that and paints a world with pink houses shaped like cakes and silver heels that click on tiles.

Hadadi’s art is jewel toned and filled with details.  She has created a warm and loving community for Lalla to explore with the reader.  The beauty of the malafa are shown, the colors of the rooms, and the tangible love of an extended family.

An accessible and beautiful look at a Muslim community that dazzles.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade.

Review: Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Nino wrestles the world

Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Everyone cheer for the incredible, the amazing Nino!  He is challenged to fight by wild opponents like The Guanajuato Mummy who is taken down by a tickle attack.  Next to challenge Nino is Olmec Head whose stony face is walloped by a Puzzle Muzzle move.  He has tricky moves to use on each one, taking one down at a time using all sorts of toys.  But finally, his real serious opponents arrive, Las Hermanitas!  Nino is going to have to use all of his wrestling and mental skills to beat these two little sister opponents.

Bold and colorful, this book evokes Lucha Libre, Mexican wrestling, right from the get go.  Morales celebrates this aspect of Mexican culture but puts her own child-friendly spin on it with wrestling different monsters using toys in Nino’s room.  She mixes the history of Lucha Libre masks with the actual monsters and the joy of a child who loves to wrestle any comers. 

The book nicely mixes Spanish and English and also switches fonts to further evoke the marquee effect of wrestling.  Add in the comic-book fonts for the various moves that Nino does and you have one very dynamic and inspired book.

This book shows everyone that books with multicultural characters can be wild fun to read!  Morales wins!  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts this week that you might find interesting:

Tips for reading wordless books to kids, plus questions to ask them to encourage storytelling.


12 Crazy Reasons Why Books Have Been Banned | HarperCollins Children’s Books #kidlit

CBC Diversity: Is the Race Card Old School? #diversity #kidlit

Dav Pilkey to Illustrate Picture Book of Inaugural Poem #kidlit

Gateway Books: Getting Latino Kids Excited About Reading | Libro por libro | School Library Journal #kidlit

Is having a strong children’s section a secret to success for indie bookstores?

Jen Robinson’s Book Page: Congratulations to Reach Out and Read #reading #kidlit

The Official SCBWI Blog: SCBWI’s Newest Award Is For Independently Published Writers and Illustrators #kidlit

Why science fiction isn’t just for geeky boys | Children’s books #yalit #kidlit

Why you should Register Now for the 7th Annual #KIDLITCON! (because KidLItCon is home)


8 tips and tricks to get the most of Project Gutenberg #ebooks

Don’t price your ebook at $1.99 — Tech News and Analysis #ebooks

Online Information, Ebooks, and Moral Panic | The Scholarly Kitchen #ebooks

Penguin makes its ebooks available to libraries through Overdrive once again — paidContent #ebooks

Simon & Schuster Begins School Test for E-books #ebooks

New shelving scheme.


Blackman: ‘ringfence library budgets’ | The Bookseller #libraries

Chicago Public Library offering programming to combat youth violence #libraries

CILIP, Blackman disgrace Vaizey in UK libraries revolt – TeleRead #libraries

I Don’t Need Two Forms of ID When I’m Standing at Your Door | Advocates’ Corner #libraries

Russian Libraries Get Less Scary, More Sexy | Russia #libraries

There’s No Such Thing as Library Leadership | Leading From the Library #libraries


7 Reasons Your Favorite Books Were Banned #reading #books

17 Ways To Find Good Books To Read #books #reading


Goodreads’ growing pains: Attempt to curtail author bullying angers many users — Tech News and Analysis

Pinterest Appeals To Publishers With New Article Pins, Pushes To Become A Bookmarking & “Read It Later” Service


8 Classic YA Books That Will Screw You Up For Life – Flavorwire #yalit

Book censors target teen fiction, says American Library Association | Books #libraries #yalit

Five questions for Rainbow Rowell – The Horn Book #yalit

Is there life beyond vampires for teenage readers? | Children’s books #yalit

What’s Your YA Name? Use This Generator To Find Out | Blog | Epic Reads #yalit