Box Full of Kittens


Ruthie loves Superman.
Ruthie wants to be Superman.

And when Ruthie is asked to go spend the afternoon with her aunt, who is about to have a baby any day day now and may need some help., Ruthie seizes the opportunity. It could be her chance to be a hero, should the baby come while she's visiting! But when Ruthie is out fetching a snack for her aunt, she gets so distracted by a box full of kittens in the bodega that she doesn't hear her aunt ...

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Ruthie loves Superman.
Ruthie wants to be Superman.

And when Ruthie is asked to go spend the afternoon with her aunt, who is about to have a baby any day day now and may need some help., Ruthie seizes the opportunity. It could be her chance to be a hero, should the baby come while she's visiting! But when Ruthie is out fetching a snack for her aunt, she gets so distracted by a box full of kittens in the bodega that she doesn't hear her aunt calling for her, nor does she notice the policemen running to the apartment or the ambulance pulling to the curb. When she realizes what's happened, she's devastated — she's missed her one chance to be a hero! Or has she?

Sonia Manzano, best known as "Maria" on Sesame Street, once again captures the warmth, love, and adventures of her childhood Bronx neighborhood.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Manzano (No Dogs Allowed!), who plays "Maria" on Sesame Street, travels back to the Bronx neighborhood of her childhood for another picture book filled with warm, colorful characters and loads of Hispanic flavor. Young Ruthie, a diehard Supermanfan, longs to be a hero like her caped idol. When she's asked to visit with her very pregnant Aunt Juanita, it seems as if she just might get to save the day. Though Ruthie proves helpful at fetching her aunt cool treats such as piraqua(a snow cone) and coquito(coconut ice)-and doing so "faster than the speed of light"-it's the cuddly titular attraction at the local bodega that distracts her from her potentially heroic duties. Aunt Juanita is rushed to the hospital in labor while Ruthie plays with the kittens, making her feel more of a zero than hero. Happily, Juanita sees things differently. Phelan's sunny and buoyant pencil-and-watercolor compositions capture the rhythms and period details of a bustling, friendly community. To Manzano's storytelling credit, Spanish terms sprinkled throughout seem slightly exotic, though also familiar. The story and artwork are never overwhelmingly era-specific; the joyful family themes here resonate in a timeless manner. Ages 3-7. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Once again drawing on experiences growing up in the Bronx, Manzano (Maria of Sesame Street) writes about young Ruth, who dreams of being Superman. Asked to keep her very pregnant aunt company, Ruthie thinks this might be the opportunity she has been waiting for. She attentively listens to each craving and runs off to street vendors to supply a piraqua (snow cone), and a coquito. She then is sent to the neighborhood grocer's to fetch cheese with guava paste but is so distracted by his box of three just-born, mewling kittens, she ignores her aunt's call for help from her third floor window, the racing police officer, and the howling siren of the ambulance arrival. She finally sees her aunt being escorted to the waiting ambulance. Still glum several days later when her family visits her aunt and new cousin, the aunt gives Ruthie all the credit for bringing the coquito that made the baby finally come. Holding the baby, listening to her coo, Ruthie at last feels super! Manzano has given Ruthie lots of spirit and personality, but also captures Ruthie's sadness at thinking she had blown her chance to matter. Phelan's watercolor, pen-and-ink illustrations bring the neighborhood alive, while allowing the pictures to make the meaning of the Spanish words evident. They are filled with details of the neighborhood, giving life to Manzano's obvious fondness for her childhood neighborhood and her experiences there.
Kirkus Reviews
Ruthie, a girl who loves Superman and kittens, is asked to keep her aunt Juanita company. Aunt Juanita is about to have a baby and it's hard for her to climb the stairs-and she's hungry. Ruthie, intent on being a superhero, fetches sweet treats-first a cherry piraquero (snow cone) and then a coquito (coconut ices). On Ruthie's third errand, the owner of the neighborhood deli shows her some kittens. Ruthie is so entranced that she barely realizes her aunt is in labor and misses the chance to really help. Ruthie returns home depressed and, a few days later, attends a party for the new baby. Her aunt announces that Ruthie saved the day with all of her errands, and Ruthie feels super as she holds the little one. This sweet story does a nice job of depicting a Latino neighborhood, but the story itself falls a bit short. Ruthie's intentions and feelings aren't always entirely expressed, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps. Still, the appealing watercolors and child-friendly elements will draw many readers in. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689830891
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/5/2007
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,445,070
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sonia Manzano is best known as “Maria,” one of the first Hispanic characters on Sesame Street, a role she has delighted in for more than twenty years. She has earned fifteen Emmy Awards as a member of the Sesame Street writing staff, and is the author of the picture books No Dogs Allowed!, A Box Full of Kittens, and the Pura Belpré Award honored The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. Sonia Manzano lives in New York City with her husband.

Matt Phelan's black-and-white illustrations first appeared in The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney. His picture books include The New Girl...and Me and Two of a Kind, both written by Jacqui Robbins. Matt lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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