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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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