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From the Be Bold Baby series

There’s no need to rush out for this one.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor acts as inspiration for a series of exhortations.

Taking the life of Sotomayor as a springboard, Oliver invites children to “Be a good listener…an explorer…courageous…helpful…vocal…a mentor…just…a good sport…an inspiration…you!” (The last appears over a mirror set into the page.) Bold and colorful illustrations accompany each motivational call. In some instances the author has added a quote from Justice Sotomayor as well. For “Be courageous” for example, the accompanying quote is “Diabetes taught me discipline.” The illustration shows a sad-looking young Sotomayor sitting on a table in an infirmary while a nurse injects her with insulin. On the last page there is a bare-bones summary that helps explain some of the statements. As part of the same Be Bold, Baby! series, Oliver presents other motivational calls based on the life of author J.K. Rowling, following the same format. Here, children are encouraged to “Be a fan…a friend…a rebel…imaginative…persistent…resilient…bewitching…a light…magical…you!” In neither book do the illustrations significantly aid board-book listeners in their comprehension of the concepts introduced. Furthermore, Sotomayor and Rowling will mean far more to adults than to preschoolers. However, the books could be used as a basis for meaningful if rudimentary conversations.

There’s no need to rush out for this one. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-51995-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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This book falls short of its promise.

A compendium of profiles of people of color who have changed the world.

Each page of this colorful board book contains between four and nine profiles of people of color whose activism and leadership have changed the world. The descriptive text for each leader chosen is extremely short—only one sentence long—quickly outlining each person’s background, heritage, accomplishments, and little else. Each profile is accompanied by a bobbleheadlike cartoon illustration of the leader in question, rendered with bold colors and nearly identical in their simplified facial features. The heroes chosen are diverse in terms of their race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and areas of expertise, including African American athlete and artist Ernie Barnes, Dominican fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Kwakwaka’wakw artist Ellen Ka’kasolas Neel, and president of Ecuador Lenín Moreno, who uses a wheelchair. Although the range is impressive, it is also confusing: A few sentences of additional text sporadically appear, serving little purpose and breaking the flow, nor does there seem to be any unifying threads to the groupings. Additionally, some of the choices of heroes are questionable: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, for example, was often criticized for engaging in corruption and doing little to further the cause of women’s rights, while “spiritual leader” Sudehanshu Biswas is hardly known even in his home country of India.

This book falls short of its promise. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32642-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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From the The Life Of series

An age-appropriate portrait of an important artist, sketched effectively in broad strokes.

Part of the bilingual The Life Of series of biographies showcasing the lives of Latinx icons, this board book profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat, Black American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent.

The authors introduce young readers to Basquiat in simple, short statements that are easily accessible to a preschool audience. The information—presented in both Spanish and English—centers on Basquiat’s early life and professional successes. From a young age, Basquiat showed an inclination toward art and used his father’s work supplies to draw at home. His mother described his artistic creations as “messy, bright, and bold!”—a trademark style that would define his life’s work. As he grew older, buildings and subway trains were a canvas for his graffiti artwork before his paintings gained entrée into art galleries. Appealing illustrations with selective coloring accompany the text. Another book in the series, The Life of / La vida de Evelyn, introduces young children to Mexican American prima ballerina Evelyn Cisneros. Children may relate to some of the challenges experienced by young Evelyn, such as overcoming shyness and feeling excluded due to the color of her skin.

An age-appropriate portrait of an important artist, sketched effectively in broad strokes. (Board book biography. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947971-72-1

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Lil' Libros

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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