Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review - Kevin's Kwanzaa

Kevin's Kwanzaa (Fall and Winter Holidays)
by Lisa Bullard
illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo
Date: 2012
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 24
Format: e-book
Source: library

Kevin's family is celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa! They light candles and learn a special word each day. They talk about working together. On the sixth day, everyone dances at a big feast! Find out the different ways people celebrate this holiday.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I might have liked this book more if I hadn't already read Together for Kwanzaa this year, which is a much better Kwanzaa picture book for kids. The only thing I liked about this one (that wasn't included in the other book) was the short mention of the originator of the celebration, and when it came about.

Kevin's Kwanzaa is one of those books that seems more like it's aimed at kids who already celebrate the holiday... which is odd, because it's part of a series that seems to be aiming to teach kids about other cultures' celebrations. Aside from a poster the grandfather has that shows the Seven Principles, there isn't much explanation about the significance of the seven days and the word that goes along with each. Some days are skipped over, so the reader doesn't really get a good idea of how the whole celebration unfolds. The sixth-day celebration with food and dancing is mentioned. So are presents. But there's not much significance placed on many of these things.

Even the names of the objects used in the celebrations are just in English here, rather than in Swahili. This leads to a weird glossary that defines things like "candleholder", "creativity", and "slave", which seems awfully generic. Where's the mention of the kinara? Or the mkeka? It almost seems like whoever wrote this book wasn't all that familiar with the holiday themselves!

The pictures here are just okay. They're bright and cartoonish, and show people enjoying themselves... but they're nothing special.

Granted, I've only read two picture books about Kwanzaa, but this one is by far the weaker of the two. It doesn't really have a story; it's almost more of a textbook. Pages are wasted at the end with an unnecessary glossary, an index (in a picture book?!), and some rather confusing instructions on how to make a drum from an oatmeal container. I'd give this one a pass. If you (or the children in your life) are keen to learn about Kwanzaa, I'd recommend Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford instead.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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