This picture book about a gemstone composed of nightmares isn’t for little ones.


A tale from Italy via Australia that takes the shine off of diamonds.

Carolina, a little, inquisitive White girl, watches Mama don her diamond earrings as she prepares for a fancy-dress occasion. Carolina asks what the earrings cost. Mama doesn’t know; Uncle Winston gave them to her “because he loves me very much.” Carolina’s quick-fire questions and Mama’s terse answers reveal that Winston purchased them in Antwerp, Belgium, but the jewels were mined in Africa, where Amina, their Black nanny, comes from. When Carolina learns that Amina has no diamonds, Mama abruptly ends the questioning, grabs her clutch, and leaves. After Amina puts her to bed, Carolina dreams, starting with Amina’s digging in a diamond mine, where armed men kill and brutalize the miners, after which a sequence of black-and-white scenes depicts the journey of the gems, which pass through many middlemen, each of whom receives a cut of the profits. Finally, the earrings land in Mama’s hands in a little purple box (the only purple object in the illustrations—notably, a royal color), to her obvious delight. When Carolina awakens crying, it is Amina, not Mama, who comforts her. Greder’s haunting, dark, charcoal-and-pastel images capture the devastation, greed, and secrecy that accompany the diamond trade. The juxtaposition of Amina’s tenderness against Mama’s stern silencing of Carolina’s probing questions speaks volumes. Three afterwords reveal further truths about this destructive industry. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-23-inch double-page spreads viewed at 23.6% of actual size.)

This picture book about a gemstone composed of nightmares isn’t for little ones. (Picture book. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-76087-704-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: A & U Children/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page.


From the Willa of the Wood series , Vol. 2

A young Faeran girl puts everything on the line to save her home and the family she loves.

Emerging from the charred ruins of the Faeran forest lair, 13-year-old green-skinned, brown-haired Willa has formed a new family with humans who care about the Great Smoky Mountain as much as she does. Unfortunately, the Sutton Lumber Company has plans to clear the forest for railroad tracks. Her White adoptive father, Nathaniel, has become a leading voice against the destruction, making him a target. After he is arrested on suspicion of murdering loggers, Willa asks for help from her Faeran clan, but they blame her for the death of their leader and subsequent loss of their old home. Even the forest itself has grown hostile as strange, deathly cold creatures attack. Adelaide, a new blond, blue-eyed friend, and Hialeah, Nathaniel’s White and Cherokee daughter, join Willa in protecting the forest, clearing Nathaniel’s name, saving the Faeran, and unraveling the mystery of the malicious beasts. This duology closer is a captivating, stirring tale of family, friendship, the environment, and our place in the world. At every turn, Willa is faced with higher stakes and decisions that are even harder to make; the consequences of each choice weigh on her heart. The gorgeous prose and imagery of the mountains will inspire in readers a deep admiration for nature and support for Willa’s fight.

A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-00760-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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