Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz

Cover image for Paletero Man.

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player (9780063014442)

It’s the hottest day in the hottest month in Los Angeles, so a boy heads out with his money to find the paletero cart, hoping that his favorite flavor is still available. The first cart that he finds is the tamale cart, but that’s not what he wants today. Ms. Lee has Korean BBQ for sale, but he won’t even stop for a sample. He runs past the bike shop too, not stopping to visit. Finally, he finds Paletero Joe in the park and there is still some pineapple flavor left. But when he reaches into his pocket, all of his money is gone. Luckily, all of the business owners he ran past noticed him dropping his money and are all there at the park to return it to him.

A story of delicious food set against the urban LA cityscape, this picture book shows a strong, connected and diverse community. The various foods from different cultures are all celebrated as the narrator dashes past them looking for his desired cool treat. Diaz manages to write a rhyming picture book that is merry and bright, never becoming sing-songy but instead incorporating Spanish to create many of the rhymes.

The illustrations cleverly show the money dropping out the boy’s pockets though readers may miss it the first time they read the book. The illustrations are bold and bright, reflecting the colors of the paletero and showing the diverse people in a bright and friendly urban neighborhood.

A great read-aloud just right if you have popsicles to share. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

Fred Gets Dressed by Peter Brown

Cover image for Fred Gets Dressed.

Fred Gets Dressed by Peter Brown (9780316200646)

Fred loves to be naked. He runs through the house wild and free. He thinks he may never get dressed, but then discovers the closet in his parents’ bedroom. First, he tries on his Dad’s clothes, including a shirt, tie and pair of shoes. But he has trouble putting them on and they don’t fit right. He looks at his mother’s side of the closet. He picks out a blouse, scarf and some shoes. He doesn’t have any trouble putting them on in an outfit. Now he needs some additional touches, like some jewelry and maybe some makeup. That’s when his parents come in the room. His mother shows him how to put the makeup on and how to do hair. Soon all of the family, even the dog, are all dressed up together in a marvelous mix of outfits.

Brown uses simple wording to show a young boy exploring with nakedness and then playing dress up. The parents he shows are clearly unconcerned with the naked child running all around the house. His merriment is wonderful to see as is their casual response. As Fred tries on his mother’s clothes and then gets “caught” the reaction of the parents is perfection as they join in the fun but also show Fred some new skills along the way.

Brown’s art is always marvelous. Here his palette is an unusual mix of greens, vivid pink and browns. The result is a modern yet classic feel.

A charmer of a picture book that celebrates freedom from gender norms. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little, Brown and Company.