For reading aloud or alone, a nourishing choice.

COMMUNITY SOUP

Mary’s little lamb becomes a village child’s goats in this quirky, Kenya-set tale of making pumpkin vegetable soup.

The story opens with children picking vegetables from a community garden. “But where is Kioni?” Kioni is looking for her goats. Suddenly, the text turns into a familiar rhyme, adapted to reflect its setting in an unnamed Kenyan village. Kioni’s goats “with hair of calico” almost eat the vegetables, but they make a better contribution to the soup instead (never fear: It’s just their milk). Textured collage illustrations combining natural materials and painted images show the busy children, the corn, pumpkin, sweet potato and other vegetables that make up the soup, and Kioni’s calico-haired goats. The simple text is set on harvest-toned pages opposite full-bleed pictures. At one point, two consecutive images carry the action. Two double-page spreads emphasize highlights: goats in the garden (“GO!”) and, at the end, goats and children each eating their appropriate foods. The story concludes with a recipe. Fullerton, who introduced young readers to rural Uganda in A Good Trade (illustrated by Karen Patkau; 2013), provides a positive picture of community cooperation in another rural setting, identified as Kenya in the publisher’s cataloging. (A portion of the book’s profits will go to Creation of Hope, a project supporting orphans from and around Kikima, Kenya.)

For reading aloud or alone, a nourishing choice. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-927485-27-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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