Fosters familial connection and resilience; told in luxurious prose with illustrations worth framing.

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IF YOU LOOK UP TO THE SKY

In this stunning picture book debut from Dalton, strikingly painted by veteran illustrator Sikorskaia (Big Cat, Little Fox, 2018, etc.), a girl sees the wisdom in her grandmother’s words across a multitude of beautiful skyscapes.

A little girl and her grandmother, both dark-skinned, look into the sky together. The grandmother tells the child that if she’s feeling lost but can see the moon through the clouds, she will “know you’re in the place you are meant to be.” If there is no moon, that is a moment to learn patience. If there are stars, they glow with the child’s accomplishments. Each skyscape represents something: A shooting star is the girl’s uniqueness; a storm shows that even bad moments can be exciting—and will pass; clouds are dreams waiting to be dreamed; and a cloudless sky shows anything is possible. Sikorskaia’s vibrant color choices stretch across double-page spreads, each with the girl showing a different aspect of her own personality that reflects the grandmother’s wisdom: She is in turn a ballet dancer, a hiker, a canoe paddler, a dreamer, and—at the end—a mother with a son of her own, sharing what her grandmother told her. The rhythm and cadence of Dalton’s prose are beautifully lyrical, and the tone is at once forward-looking and nostalgic: The world is full of possibility, and those we love are with us always.

Fosters familial connection and resilience; told in luxurious prose with illustrations worth framing.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59298-828-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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