A suitable guide to start the conversation about gun violence with children.

SOMETHING HAPPENED IN OUR PARK

STANDING TOGETHER AFTER GUN VIOLENCE

A young boy deals with anxiety centered on gun violence in his community.

When Miles’ father sits him and his brother down to inform them that their cousin Keisha—who’s been living with them while she attends college—has been shot and wounded during a concert at the neighborhood park, he starts to panic. Lost in this newfound worry, Miles begins to have trouble focusing in school, and his latest drawings have his teacher worried. Miles’ parents do their best to reassure him that although their neighborhood isn’t always safe, there are plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t move. As Miles’ family begins to move on, Miles is still battling his anxiety. One day, Keisha tells the family about the community efforts her friends are involved with to prevent more gun violence, prompting Miles’ parents to help. After seeing the results of his parents’ efforts at the park, Miles is compelled to inspire others with his unique set of skills. This simply stated story and the note to readers—chock-full of helpful prompts—could be useful to caregivers looking to help children through trauma. Although the majority of characters are Black, and their names are stereotypical, the authors clear up misconceptions by citing the disproportionate circumstances that lead to increases in community violence. Illustrations are reminiscent of newspaper comic strips, with wobbly lined color sketches that young artists would be inclined to replicate. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 40.3% of actual size.)

A suitable guide to start the conversation about gun violence with children. (Picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3521-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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