A well-crafted story of cooperation and sharing within the context of the biblical story of Creation.

A VERY BIG PROBLEM

Using the first two chapters of Genesis as a starting point, this story reimagines the Earth’s parts and inhabitants, created by God and at odds with each other.

Written in rhythmic style, reminiscent of the Old Testament chapters with their repetitive refrains, this text reads aloud well. As Levine and Sasso’s story goes, God creates Land, Rain, Plants, Sun, Birds, Earthworms, Quadrupeds, and Children in order to fashion the “very first garden,” but each “brag[s] and boast[s] and bluster[s],” thinking they must be the most important part. Land asserts, “God should love me the most. It is only fair,” and all the others follow suit, until God states “my love is big enough for every one of you.” Then, as God intended: “There was peace. / And it was very good.” An authors’ note mentions the legend is written in “the storytelling form from rabbinic literature known as midrash.” Although it focuses on Creation, it does not retell the story of Adam and Eve but pictures contemporary diverse children, their descendants. The note goes on to suggest various ideas for use (even to introduce the story of evolution), but the focus is on the story’s moral and imaginative qualities. The text uses no gender pronouns, and the layered, richly colored illustrations occasionally evoke Eric Carle’s collages.

A well-crafted story of cooperation and sharing within the context of the biblical story of Creation. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947888-11-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flyaway Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Though cheerful illustrations add some zest, this little prayer feels flat.

MY LITTLE PRAYER

Based on the lyrics of his song by the same name, Archuleta’s foray into picture books calls upon his musical roots as well as his faith.

The book is language-sparse, with most of the story told through Ugolotti’s illustrations. These depict a White child who dreams of playing soccer but must grapple with disappointment. When the unnamed protagonist, who presents male, is not picked to play for the soccer team, he befriends a Black child who presents female and who has also been left out of the game, due to injury. Their initial connection on the sidelines blossoms into a true friendship, proving to be a far richer outcome than the aspiring soccer star could have anticipated. Alongside the visual story runs a little prayer of gratitude thanking God for his presence, patience, and plan in the child’s life. The words are general, with no reference to either soccer or friendship: “Heavenly Father, I am grateful for your eternal presence. / I am learning to be patient and that you are really there.” Though the interracial mixed-gender friendship is cute, the overall prayer and plot are bland. This is useful to augment collections and bookshelves where Christian picture books are in high demand, but it does not stand out from the pack. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Though cheerful illustrations add some zest, this little prayer feels flat. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952239-54-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque.

IN MY MOSQUE

Children welcome readers into different mosques to learn about varying activities and services that take place in them.

Though many different mosques and children are depicted, the voices call readers’ attention to the similarities among Muslim communities around the world. Yuksel highlights the community eating together; women, men, and children sharing the space and praying together; grandfathers thumbing their tasbihs; grandmothers reading the Quran; aunties giving hugs; children playing. The effect is to demonstrate that a mosque is more than just a building but rather a space where children and adults come together to pray, give, learn, and play. Joyful characters describe what happens in simple, poetic language: “In my mosque, the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes in the air. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, linked like one long chain.” Aly’s bright illustrations pair well with Yuksel’s words, ending with a beautiful spread of children staring at readers, waving and extending their hands: “You are welcome in my mosque.” The variety of mosques included suggests that each has its own unique architecture, but repeating geometric patterns and shapes underscore that there are similarities too. The author’s note guides readers to her website for more information on the mosques depicted; they are not labeled, which is frustrating since the backmatter also includes a tantalizing list of famous mosques on every continent except Antarctica.

Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque. (glossary, sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297870-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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