“When the Cousins Came” Review in The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Our narrator, Lila, is thrilled when her cousins Rosie and Takeo come to visit. They have their own ways (skateboards rather than a bike), but that just adds to their allure (Everything the cousins did was a little bit extra special). The visit culminates in a campout, originally planned for outside until the rain poured down and then happening in the house; though Lila is initially hurt at the cousins’ creation of a separate tent for themselves, soon the three join the tents together, and when Rosie and Takeo depart, Lila glows at the happy note they leave for her. Yamasaki keeps the story engaging without resorting to major conflict, making it clear that this is a fond extended family where minor differences (who uses chopsticks, who goes outside at night) might cause a moment of awkwardness but don’t interfere with the pleasure of hanging out with cool kids you don’t see that often. Mixed-media art puts strong painterly figures in immersive full-bleed spreads, with creative and varied compositions adding energy; Yamasaki displays her muralist’s sensibility in the balance of glowing color and in the strong modeling of the faces of the family members, with varied skin tones and hair that make it clear this is a multicultural clan. Like Frazee’s A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever (BCCB 03/08) if a tad gentler, this is a celebration of the happy alchemy of kids creating their own activities together.”

-Reviewed from galleys, June 2018 issue of The Bulletin

“When the Cousins Came” Review in The Horn Book Magazine

“Lila is excited to have her city cousins, Rosie and Takeo, visit. She’s happy when they do her hair—Rosie, with her two-puffball hairdo, redoes Lila’s braids into more of a ‘shark fin’ like Takeo’s—and when they play outside (‘We brought our own wheels,’ says skateboard-holding Rosie). When Lila sees her cousins using chopsticks better than she can, and when they hold each other’s hands in the dark, she starts to feel left out. On their last night together, Lila proposes camping. ‘No way…Too scary,’ say Takeo and Rosie, and rain further foils the plan. But Pop suggests camping indoors—the perfect idea! While the text never mentions the ethnicity of the characters, Lila’s ethnic identity appears to be different from that of her cousins, and the story positively depicts how barriers can be erased when kids who may not look alike, or have all the same experiences, spend time together. Yamasaki’s vibrant mixed-media collage illustrations convey this family well; butterflies that appear on the cover and surround the kids frequently may be intended as metaphors for unity or happiness (though they occasionally are visually distracting). In any case, this is a useful mirror book for many readers as well as a quiet story of how people from different backgrounds and cultures can meet halfway and learn from each other.”

– Michelle H. Martin, July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine


Read more at www.hbook.com

“When the Cousins Came” Starred Review from School Library Journal

“K-Gr 2–Lila eagerly anticipates the arrival of her two cousins who are visiting from the city. She is excited to have children her own age to play with, but when Rosie and Takeo arrive things don’t go exactly as Lila imagines. They have cool hairstyles instead of a plain braid like Lila. They skateboard instead of biking. “Everything the cousins did was a little bit special,” observes Lila after they show her how they make huge graffiti-inspired chalk-art outside. At dinner they ask for chopsticks, which Lila has never used and didn’t even know her family owned. The cousins are never unkind—they style Lila’s hair, take turns with the bike and skateboards, and give Lila tips on using chopsticks, but Lila still feels a bit inferior. After dark, Lila is excited to take her cousins for a walk and look for fireflies, but the cousins are nervous about being out at night and Lila again feels like an outsider.

“Lila’s worry that her cousins don’t enjoy the things she wants to share with them lasts throughout the visit, but doesn’t make the story gloomy or heavy. The gentle plot captures the nuance of childhood friendships, and how small things can loom large for sensitive children like Lila. Yamasaki’s lively mixed-media illustrations evoke strong feelings, and small background details reflect the author’s own experience growing up as part of a large family. VERDICT A refreshing, reassuring, and honest story about family and friendship that stands out amid a sea of pat friendship stories.”

– Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

Review of ‘When the Cousins Came’ by Booklist Advanced Review

“A planned campout is cancelled due to rain, but the children make an elaborate indoor tent, one big enough for all three of them to share. Mixed-media collage illustrations, incorporating acrylic, gouache, pastels, colored pencil, and hand-painted cut paper, beautifully present the multiethnic family.”

– Lucinda Whitehurst

Review of ‘When the Cousins Came’ by Johns Hopkins University Press

“Mixed-media art puts strong painterly figures in immersive full-bleed spreads, with creative and varied compositions adding energy; Yamasaki displays her muralist’s sensibility in the balance of glowing color and in the strong modeling of the faces of the family members, with varied skin tones and hair that make it clear this is a multicultural clan.”

– Deborah Stevenson, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Read the full review on Johns Hopkins University Press.

‘When the Cousins Came’ Starred Review by Kirkus

“In a story that’s reminiscent of “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” a young mixed Japanese-white girl savors creating summer memories with her cousins.

“The night before the cousins came, I couldn’t sleep.” Country girl Lila is excited to host city cousins Rosie and Takeo, who sport hair styled in “two puffy balls” and “a little shark fin,” respectively. Her bucket list is full of simple pleasures, such as painting and camping outside. Luckily for her, her cousins are game, and they take turns teaching each other new things, such as skateboarding, riding a bike, and how to eat with chopsticks, “ ‘Hold them like this,’ said Takeo. I tried…and tried.” (The page offers four amusing scenes of Lila first awkwardly using the unfamiliar utensils and then finally gaining mastery.) Lila also introduces her cousins to fireflies. “ ‘What is that?!?’ asked Takeo. I caught a firefly and cupped it in my hands. The firefly bumped gently against the walls of my palms. ‘Just look,’ I whispered to Rosie.” Yamasaki uses deceptively simple, carefully chosen language for the brief blocks of text on each page. The rest of the story is told through her paintings, which are defined by bright brush strokes of color. The overall effect is a quiet story that captures all those small cherished moments in childhood.

“A rare find about family featuring a mixed-raced protagonist. (Picture book. 4-7)”

Read the review on kirkusreviews.com

‘Fish for Jimmy’ Reviewed by NY Times

“Yamasaki, who works as a muralist and educator, creates sweeping paintings that capture the story in a literal manner even as she makes bold metaphorical leaps. When the two boys lie in bed at night, the menacing shadows of the camp’s guard tower are imprinted on their blankets. The family stands poised on Taro’s reclining form, while the imagined torsos of F.B.I. agents loom in a forbidding muddy background. One of the most moving spreads shows Taro capturing fish in a river, each fish carrying a reclining Jimmy on its back.

The overall result is a dramatic, visual feast. And Yamasaki gives readers a reassuringly happy ending.”

– Pamela Paul, NY Times

Read the full review at nytimes.com

Kirkus Review of Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Car

“Soichiro Honda was, in his own way, the Henry Ford of Japan. He became fascinated by automobiles from his very first sight of a Model T. Determined to learn everything possible about cars, he began as a cleaner in a garage and eventually became an expert mechanic with his own business. Later he designed racecars and manufactured car parts and airplane propellers. After World War II, he developed small motorcycles and started the Honda Motor Company, constantly adding improvements and innovations to his products and then designing and manufacturing fuel-efficient automobiles. Weston presents Honda as a perfectionist, an innovator in his field and a model corporate leader, who encouraged his workers, listened to them and treated them well. However, with the exception of a list of retirement activities, Honda’s life beyond business is nowhere to be found. Yamasaki’s detailed and whimsical acrylics add zest to the proceedings. A worthwhile introduction to a neglected subject.”

– http://www.kirkusreviews.com

Read the full review on kirkusreviews.com