A loving and forceful reminder that Keats’ Peter is our Peter—always.

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A POEM FOR PETER

THE STORY OF EZRA JACK KEATS AND THE CREATION OF THE SNOWY DAY

A love letter to the man who gave readers the beautiful and enduring image of a black boy in a red hooded snowsuit.

Pinkney, an African-American Brooklynite and a child of the 1960s, uses free verse to tell the story of the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland who settled in Brooklyn. Jacob Ezra Katz attended local schools, served in the Army during World War II, and loved to draw. He famously saw a series of photographs in Life magazine of a little black child and saved them for many years until the creation of A Snowy Day, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963. Katz, who changed his name to Keats to avoid anti-Semitism, went on to feature Peter, that “brown-sugar boy in a blanket of white,” in several more ever popular stories. Fancher and Johnson’s collage art is a homage to Keats’, re-creating images from his books and fashioning scenes of Keats’ own Brooklyn neighborhood. Those who love Peter (and who does not?) will relish the illustrations, particularly that of Keats holding hands with Peter under a snow-dappled tree. More to the point, Pinkney lets readers know what Peter meant and still means as a milestone in inclusive children’s literature. “He brought a world of white / suddenly alive with color.”

A loving and forceful reminder that Keats’ Peter is our Peter—always. (author’s notes, Keats bibliography, resources, photographs) (Picture book/poetry/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28768-2

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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