This message of the normalcy and joy of being brown is upbeat and uplifting.

READ REVIEW

I AM BROWN

Brown children around the world celebrate their uniqueness and their ordinariness in this inclusive illustrated poem.

The poem ranges from the outer (“I am brown / I am beautiful / I am perfect”) to the inner (“I am love / I am friendship / I am happiness”); from titles (“I am a doctor / … / an athlete / … / a president”) to actions (“I make art / I design rocket ships / … / I solve crimes”). Together the text and accompanying pictures represent brown children in all their diversity. Each spread features a collection of children in various outfits and costumes who collectively or individually state where they come from (every continent except Antarctica), what languages they speak (a U.N. of tongues including Russian, Tamil, Chinese, and Arabic), what clothing they wear (“a shirt and a lungee”; “a business suit”), what foods they eat (noodles, vindaloo, steak, tagliatelle, etc.), what they like to do, where they pray (or don’t), and who they are (“your roommate / … / your friend / … / your teacher”). The global outlook is a refreshing corrective to often confining Western understandings. The final spread invites readers in with “I am brown / I am amazing / I am YOU.” Prabhat’s lovely, child-friendly artwork abounds in smiles and energy; the browns have a reddish undertone, and beige, blue-green, and orange-red patterns make for a warm palette.

This message of the normalcy and joy of being brown is upbeat and uplifting. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-911373-94-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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