A pleasing morality tale on the importance of friendship and teamwork

ME, ME, ME

Bespectacled, brown-skinned English-speaker Annie, white Swede Lillemor, and dark-complected Francophone Lilianne are back again as Dunklee and Smith team up in this follow-up to Me Too! (2015).

This time around the multilingual trio sets out to conquer the music world, or at least the school talent show, as an all-girl vocal trio. Things seem to be off to a good start when Lillemor and Lilianne quickly agree on a song to perform for the show, but Annie forcefully asserts her own idea that they make up their own song. In fact, Annie vetoes all her friends’ opinions, “Because this whole thing was my idea.” The trio quickly dissolves as Annie makes it all about “me, me, me,” leaving her friends behind to pursue a solo act. Annie learns the hard way what it’s like to not have her opinion listened to, while Lillemore and Lilianne discover their duo is lacking an important piece. Ready to truly work as a team, the girls reunite just in time to perform in the school talent show. Themes of empathy, diversity and cooperation abound. Bright, digitally rendered illustrations are sure to appeal to young audiences, while the character-development lesson is sure to appeal to many adults.

A pleasing morality tale on the importance of friendship and teamwork . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-660-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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