Crespo needs a dictionary if she’s going to make the series succeed.

J.P. AND THE BOSSY DINOSAUR

FEELING UNHAPPY

From the My Emotions and Me series

Young JP’s happy mood takes a (temporary) flier when he discovers from a dinosaur-shaped measuring sign that he’s too short for the Tween-o-Saurus Rex pool.

The latest entry in Crespo’s My Emotions and Me series goes seriously off the rails, as the Mood-o-Meter on the cover points to “sad,” but JP’s feelings seem a lot more like frustration or rage. The lad himself misidentifies his reaction to passing well beneath the “You Must Be This Tall” sign: “I almost threw a fit. I was so sad.” The fugue only lasts a page turn, whereupon JP recalls that “I am a happy dinosaur” and cheerfully goes off to do a cannonball into the presumably relatively shallow Diplodo-Kids pool. Sirotich’s cartoon illustrations will likewise leave young readers confused. If they are not puzzled by the way that the sign comes to life when JP tries to argue with it, or how JP and everyone else are depicted as dinosaurs on some spreads and people on others, then a later scene in which he is again made “sad” by the sight of a dog riding a tricycle will definitely make them scratch their heads. The author’s italicized closing disclaimer that she’s not an expert in child psychology is probably superfluous.

Crespo needs a dictionary if she’s going to make the series succeed. (note to parents and teachers) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3981-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message.

I'LL WALK WITH YOU

Drawing on lyrics from her Mormon children’s hymn of the same title, Pearson explores diversity and acceptance in a more secular context.

Addressing people of varying ages, races, origins, and abilities in forced rhymes that omit the original version’s references to Jesus, various speakers describe how they—unlike “some people”—will “show [their] love for” their fellow humans. “If you don’t talk as most people do / some people talk and laugh at you,” a child tells a tongue-tied classmate. “But I won’t! / I won’t! / I’ll talk with you / and giggle too. / That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Unfortunately, many speakers’ actions feel vague and rather patronizing even as they aim to include and reassure. “I know you bring such interesting things,” a wheelchair user says, welcoming a family “born far, far away” who arrives at the airport; the adults wear Islamic clothing. As pink- and brown-skinned worshipers join a solitary brown-skinned person who somehow “[doesn’t] pray as some people pray” on a church pew, a smiling, pink-skinned worshiper’s declaration that “we’re all, I see, one family” raises echoes of the problematic assertion, “I don’t see color.” The speakers’ exclamations of “But I won’t!” after noting others’ prejudiced behavior reads more as self-congratulation than promise of inclusion. Sanders’ geometric, doll-like human figures are cheery but stiff, and the text’s bold, uppercase typeface switches jarringly to cursive for the refrain, “That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Characters’ complexions include paper-white, yellow, pink, and brown.

An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4236-5395-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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