Exuberantly affirming and infectiously joyful.

The founders of the Grammy nominated hip-hop children’s music collective Alphabet Rockers encourage kids to celebrate who they are and tell their stories.

In first-person narratives, six diverse young people take turns sharing their experiences of prejudice; their identity struggles; and their desire to be seen, understood, and respected. “No one says my name right at school,” an Indian girl reveals sadly as the artwork shows her being taunted by classmates. On a double-page spread showing a Black boy being racially profiled by a White storeowner, the text reads “You don't know me, / but I need you to know that / I don't always feel safe here.” Despite being made to feel like they don’t belong, the characters are making positive contributions to the world. “I’m making music that sends a signal to kids everywhere that / there is no limit to being you,” says an Asian girl with a prosthetic hand who is a DJ. “When I help the community, / I MAKE THE PLANET BETTER / FOR SEVEN GENERATIONS / TO COME,” declares a Native American girl who is a land and water protector. A White nonbinary kid welcomes questions, acknowledging that some can hurt: “I have a friend who loves me for me. / Doesn’t ask about my body parts, / but does want to know what / it is like being nonbinary.” A biracial boy contemplates the starry night sky and reminds the reader that “I've always been here. Shining.” Evans’ digital illustrations present the kids cartoonishly, with large, glowing eyes and differentiated skin tones. The text—which might be imaginatively enhanced via spoken word or rap—sometimes reads choppily. The kids’ engaging stories build to an empathic, call-and-response coda: “If you feel it in your heart and you’re ready to take part, / say I’m not alone—I’M NOT ALONE.”

Exuberantly affirming and infectiously joyful. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72824-028-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021


A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019


Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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