A super story for anyone who wants to be a superhero.

I JUST WANT TO BE SUPER!

After gaining superpowers, Nino discovers what it really means to be super.

When Nino tries on a superhero mask, he gains superpowers, suddenly soaring above the kitchen floor. When he tries to show Papa, he is told to put away his dishes. Nino uses his powers to put them away “SUPER style,” even though he doesn’t want to. And before he can use his superpowers to make art with his sister, Mama tells him to get dressed. “So he SHAZAMMED into his shirt and shorts.” Throughout the day, Nino wants to use his powers for fun, but someone always diverts him. Finally, Nino loses his temper at the park because his father won’t let him use his powers to throw a huge rock. When Nino faces a monster that has captured his cat, he discovers other ways to be super. Nino and his superpowers capture a child’s energy and wild imagination even as his family demonstrates patience and reasonable boundary-setting. Nino’s adventure, which kids can read as literal or imaginary as they will, shows that there are many different ways to be super, like showing empathy, helping others, making new friends, and being gentle. Nino’s character will resonate with kids, capturing a child’s perspective and emotions well. The appealing illustrations are fun and bold, exuding the super energy of the text, and present the whole family with brown skin and straight, black hair.

A super story for anyone who wants to be a superhero. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-2-89802-193-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CrackBoom! Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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