With its strong message about sexual assault, this is a necessary addition to sex-education collections.

TELL ME ABOUT SEX, GRANDMA

From the Ordinary Terrible Things series

A small child asks Grandma what sex is and gets a wise response.

Higginbotham follows titles on death and divorce with a refreshingly different take on a child’s sex question. A speech-bubble conversation, occasionally interrupted by eating and play, accompanies narrative answers, stated simply but directly and stressing the child’s right to be curious. This is not a biology lesson or physical description; it’s ethical and emotional. “Sex is private.” It includes motion and feelings that grow and change as a child grows up. With whom and how “belongs to no one else but you.” The child reiterates the lesson: what’s most important is the personal choice: “I am the one-and-only, top-boss, in-charge decider about sex in my life for my whole life.” Set on kraft paper, the collage illustrations have been assembled from a variety of materials including magazine pictures and photographs. The pair are black: the child has a reddish Afro and Grandma sports beaded hair (and very cool shoes). Images of Grandma’s row-house neighborhood and comfortable apartment, decorated with religious images and looking out on trees, tell readers more about their world. Several pictures reinforce the final message that the internet is not a good place to find answers to this question; ask a savvy grown-up instead.

With its strong message about sexual assault, this is a necessary addition to sex-education collections. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-155861-419-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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