A sweet pick-me-up.

READ REVIEW

I AM SMART, I AM BLESSED, I CAN DO ANYTHING!

Young Ayaan needs affirmations to prepare for his day at school.

Ayaan loves school, but today he feels “a little bit worried.” His mom notices that he’s not looking happy as he usually does. He tells her what’s bothering him: “Sometimes at school I don’t feel very smart.” In the accompanying illustration, he imagines his classmates all raising their hands while he frowns. Ayaan’s mom has an answer for that, and it’s one Ayaan knows. They say it together: “I am smart.” Ayaan feels better, but he’s still dubious. As his mom walks him to school, they see encouraging friends and neighbors, which prompts their second affirmation: “I am blessed.” When Ayaan needs to tie his shoelace, his mom encourages him to try it all by himself. When he succeeds, they chant their third affirmation: “I CAN DO ANYTHING!” At last, Ayaan feels confident and ready for a good day at school. The bright, saturated, animation-style illustrations show a small, brown-skinned Ayaan with bright eyes and a high-top, a brown mom with colorful locs, and a racially diverse neighborhood and classroom. Ayaan’s dilemma is a common one, and the open relationship and positive problem-solving between this mother-son team are cheerful and warm. Families looking to practice affirmations may find inspiration here. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 62.2% of actual size.)

A sweet pick-me-up. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-20660-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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A rite of passage seen through the lens of a favorite literary pal.

LLAMA LLAMA LOOSE TOOTH DRAMA

From the Llama Llama series

Llama Llama loses a tooth for the first time.

All of the wiggling can make having a loose tooth fun, but there can be some worry, too. How will it fall out? There is a tooth fairy? What does she do? Llama Llama is distressed. “Is it fun? / Or is it scary? / Just who, exactly, / IS this Fairy?” Luckily, Mama is there to help. “The Fairy’s great. She’s kind and funny. / She takes your tooth / and leaves you money.” Llama Llama is on board with that! Appropriately, exactly how much money is never specified, but the tiny llama fairy is shown carrying a bag stuffed with bills. Hopefully she has many houses to visit. Gram and Grandpa have lots of ideas on how to get the tooth to fall out, but Llama’s tooth stays put until bedtime. Suddenly, Llama realizes his tooth is gone: “OH NO. / Where is that tooth? / Where did it GO?” Will the tooth fairy come if the tooth is lost? The comforting cadence of the rhymes paired with warm, textured hues soften all the drama. As in the other posthumously published Llama Llama books, Morrow’s textured paintings emulate Dewdney’s definitively lined renderings. The fluttering llama fairy, along with Llama’s stuffed llama, whose wide eyes notice all, will delight eagle-eyed readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 41.8% of actual size.)

A rite of passage seen through the lens of a favorite literary pal. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-20603-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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