THE STONE GIANT

Read aloud or explored independently, this original fairy tale will whet the appetite for more Swedish imports.

A timely fairy-tale adventure about one child’s quest to defeat a giant.

On a tiny island, a child and her knight father live in isolation. Then the knight leaves to fight a dangerous giant terrorizing the land by turning people into stone. Days pass, but the knight never returns. Finally, the girl embarks on her own journey to save her father with nothing more than a red dress, knife, mirror, and umbrella. Höglund, a contemporary Swedish children’s-book creator, points to a story by legendary author/illustrator Elsa Beskow as this book’s inspiration. Translated from Swedish, the third-person text, always printed on verso and surrounded by generous white space, is brief yet specific, prompting ponderous pauses throughout. True to fairy-tale tradition, everyday objects possess the key to salvation. However, in a contemporary twist, it is not an adult or knight in shining armor but the child who does the rescuing, not through beauty or kindness but with fortitude and determination. With the exception of a few double-page spreads, illustrations appear opposite text on recto. Employing precise copper-plate etching overlaid with nearly monochromatic watercolor washes, they create a desolate, shadowy world. This constant feeling of danger underscores the girl’s worry and subsequent bravery in the face of the unknown. The cloth binding and stamped lettering make this small, rectangular volume feel special.

Read aloud or explored independently, this original fairy tale will whet the appetite for more Swedish imports. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-776572-73-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

J.D. AND THE FAMILY BUSINESS

From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 2

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D.

Breakout kid barber J.D. embraces a summer of opportunity.

Readers met J.D. Jones just as he took his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, by storm, winning himself community acclaim and a chair at the revered Hart and Sons barbershop in series opener J.D. and the Great Barber Battle(2021). What’s next for the haircut prodigy? School’s just getting out, and there’s so much life happening outside—if only one can escape home learning with the grandparents. J.D.’s sister, Vanessa, brings along multitalented mutual friend Jessyka to share an ambitious challenge: “Let’s start a YouTube channel!” Can they get millions of views and wow the whole world? They are already amazing at haircuts and hairstyles—all they need is to learn how to make a great YouTube video. The story models strategies for scripting short videos reflecting the templates of viral YouTube hair tutorials, inviting readers to not only see the journey of the characters, but maybe also practice these skills at home. This book is bound to educate all about some of the most storied and cherished traditions within the Black community. Bringing in Vanessa is a great touch to extend the series across gender, and hopefully she’ll get a chance to lead her own adventures. This book blends skill-building, entrepreneurship, and strong family values to give young Black children visions of what’s possible when they follow their passions and embrace their community.

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11155-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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