- When the Cousins Came by Katie Yamasaki
ISBN 978-0-8234-3457-2 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R 5-8 yrs
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.
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