A beautiful introduction to life and culture on a little-known island nation—and a delightful read whether for the first or...

WHEN THE RAIN COMES

Although set in faraway Sri Lanka, Fullerton’s rhythmic tale holds a universal message: that even the smallest and youngest among us can summon up the courage to face, and overcome, the most gargantuan challenges.

Little Malini is both nervous and excited to be planting rice crops in her agricultural community for the first time. She worries: “But what if / she does it wrong? / Will they grow strong?” Malini has no time to dwell when the bullock-cart driver leaves her with the load of seedlings pulled by an ox “big enough to crush her” while he takes a coffee break. Suddenly, dark monsoon clouds move in, the sky breaks open, and a river of rain rushes down the road separating Malini from the rest of the villagers. As the wind howls and the water rises, Malini is “scared frozen,” yet she realizes that everyone is counting on her. With all the courage and strength she can muster, she tugs the ox to higher ground, thus saving the seedlings and her village’s livelihood. Fullerton’s free verse dances across the page, urging readers forward through the narrative. “Her heart pounds / as loud as the rain / as it comes, / a waterfall / straight from the sky.” And LaFave’s mood-appropriate colors, which range from the joyful sorbet hues of Malini’s village to the brooding blues and grays of the monsoon, complete the package.

A beautiful introduction to life and culture on a little-known island nation—and a delightful read whether for the first or the 100th time. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-7727-8012-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way.

PINKIE PROMISES

Lately, everyone seems intent on telling Polly what girls can’t do.

Whether it’s fixing a leak, building a model drawbridge, or washing a car, it seems like the world thinks that girls aren’t able to do anything. Polly is discouraged until she goes to a political rally with her mother. There, the two meet a White woman named Elizabeth (recognizably author Warren in Chua’s friendly illustrations) who’s running for president. She tells Polly that she is running because that’s what girls do: They lead. Polly and Elizabeth make a pinky promise to remember this truth. Polly decides that being a girl can’t prevent her from doing whatever she wants. Even though she’s a bit intimidated at attending a brand-new school, Polly decides to be brave—because that’s what girls do, and she makes a pinkie promise with her mom. At soccer, she’s under pressure to score the winning goal. She makes a pinkie promise with her coach to do her best, because that’s what girls do. And so on. By the end of the book, Polly ignores what she’s been told that girls can’t do and totally focuses on what they can do: absolutely anything they want. In the illustrations, Polly and her family have dark skin and straight, dark hair. The narrative is inspiring and child friendly, although the constant return to making pinkie promises feels like a distraction from the central message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80102-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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