A great way to spark real-world conversations with other girls “like me." (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

A GIRL LIKE ME

A book to inspire the next diverse generation of girls to keep working toward breaking glass ceilings no matter how often the world tells them, “A girl like you needs to stop.”

Johnson and Crews are seasoned talents whose collaboration here shines. Johnson’s spare words of encouragement are in harmony with Crews’ large double-page spreads blending photos of black and brown girls into a collaged dreamworld. Each of three girls is a star in her own dream only to hear people shouting in the background that what she wants simply isn’t possible. The illustrations show the three meeting on an urban playground and then encouraging other neighborhood girls of many races to join them in standing up to the doubters. There is much that Johnson doesn’t say that Crews uses pictures to illustrate. Adult readers may need to help children understand what is taking place in the story, at the heart of which is the power of play. Each girl is seen using her imagination to make her reality “better than the dream.” Illustrating this, a dozen girls in ebullient dress-up pose on the beach, all unapologetically themselves. A final spread allows each depicted girl to tell readers a little bit about herself—a sweet touch that drives home this reminder that girls should be supported in exploring their limitless imaginations, regardless of the naysayers.

A great way to spark real-world conversations with other girls “like me." (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5777-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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