Despite aesthetic faults, a cute story that expresses an important life lesson—treat others the way you want to be...

READ REVIEW

A SMIDGEN FOR A PIGEON

A scorned, humble Baltimore City pigeon works hard to feed his family.

Ray toils long hours hunting the streets for treasures to appease his boss, Jim, so he can provide breadcrumbs for his loving wife and daughter. It’s a dangerous life—kicks from unkind humans aren’t uncommon. Ray envies his neighbor, a carrier pigeon, who lives in a wooden house and eats lavishly. But Ray can’t hide who he is: not an angelic white dove, but a working-class rat with wings. In a moment’s notice he can fly away, though, escape his rotten life and forget all his worries. Fortunately, kids won’t get the wrong message from this book, Hobson’s first. Our hero, a family bird, knows the right thing to do in the end. The narrator urges readers to remember Ray’s story before they disparage another pigeon. The protagonist, part of a breed that’s rarely romanticized, is an unusual but apt choice for an emblem. It’s a sweet moral; one that can be extended to all beings. And it’s not the only lesson. “Why can’t people see past the dull colors of black and grey?” laments Ray, suggesting a racial undertone to the plot. The author writes in verse, and some rhymes detract from the overall story. A few of them are just plain contrived: The “carrier pigeon Rob” eats “corn on the cob.” In other instances, illogical words and phrases seem placed in sentences for the sole purpose of maintaining meter. Hobson’s painted cover illustrations are beautiful, but the gray-hued pictures within the book disappear against a poorly contrasting brown background.

Despite aesthetic faults, a cute story that expresses an important life lesson—treat others the way you want to be treated—from a unique point of view.

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468123388

Page Count: 26

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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