Exuberantly affirming and infectiously joyful.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

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. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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