An exuberant read-aloud extolling the glory of dance and snow days.

THE SNOW DANCER

A nighttime snowfall leads to a joyful snow-day dance.

Stepping out into the hushed silence of a snow day, Sofia pulls on a mustard-yellow coat and smooshes a matching cap over her straight, black hair. The undisturbed snow becomes her blank canvas for an exuberant snow-day ballet full of sound and life as she “crinch crunches” and “slish slusssssssssssshes” on the empty soccer field. But her solitary dance comes to an abrupt end when the field is overtaken by a horde of neighborhood children. Amid the chaos, one tiny, brown-skinned child in pigtails and fairy wings sees Sofia’s crestfallen expression, which leads to willowy Sofia’s teaching the little one to be a snow dancer too. Together, the new friends execute an impromptu pas de deux that transitions into an energetic group snowball fight until it’s time to go home. The lyrical narrative plays with auditory dynamics from the soft beginning through the jubilant, shout-filled climax to the cozy, quiet ending. The painterly illustrations use strong shapes and swooping linework that echoes Sofia’s balletic dancing. Many pages depict multiple Sofias, creating an animationlike effect that evokes movement. Sofia’s yellow-clad figure standing out against the snowy white pages and the sounds she makes in the new snow create a dance-filled nod to Ezra Jack Keats’ classic The Snowy Day (1962). (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 21.4% of actual size.)

An exuberant read-aloud extolling the glory of dance and snow days. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9317-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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