THE PLAN

A child’s desire to fly to space turns into a transformative project with her father.

On the title page a girl sits by a mailbox at the edge of a farm, chin resting in hands, a dog by her side. An old biplane by the chicken coop is partly covered in vines. Lehman’s illustrations, outlined in pen and colored with watercolor and gouache, have a simple, graphic-novel feel. A Curtis Jenny stamp, a fragment of an encyclopedia, and the girl’s drawings tell the story of her plan: to fly to Saturn. The story is nearly wordless, with a single changing word appearing in bold text on some pages: plan becomes plane, then plane becomes planet as the girl demonstrates to her dog, with toys, how they might travel. She finds a key that is Pa’s—and a look through a photo album becomes a discovery of a barnstorming poster in the attic: past. The 20 words help to ground the story as it unfolds, telling why the plane sits in the weeds, who flew it before, how it will get back into the air. They offer listeners and beginning readers a way to understand and participate in the narrative arc. Finally, girl, father, and dog come round to “plan” again—accomplished at last as they fly home from a picnic under a starry sky.

Warmhearted and joyful. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-28333-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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