Poignant, broad strokes invite a deep delve.

PEACE

A visually splendid primer on peace.

“Peace is on purpose. / Peace is a choice. / Peace lets the smallest of us / have a voice.” In this attractive package, lyrical, rhyming text explores various forms of peace. A few usual laundry-list suspects are included: “Peace is a hello, / a smile, / a hug.” But the co-authors manage to slip in emotive twists: “Peace can be bold / or quiet and snug.” Extra attention is paid to inclusivity: “Peace is pronouncing / your friend’s name correctly. // Peace means we talk / to each other directly.” This imperative is found in the illustrations as well, in which a multiracial cast of children includes two who wear eyeglasses and one who walks with forearm crutches. Luscious scenes in warm, comforting hues show the children mixing with plump, pillowy animals in a variety of habitats (in one scene a snoozing lion acts as a literal pillow); an authors’ note takes an extra step: Peace means humans living in harmony with one another and living in balance with nature too. During war and conflict, wildlife is also affected. That note also explains that animals from Mozambique—war torn but recovering—grace the pages along with other national symbols of peace. The Pauls offer strong, bold words, hoping they’ll land in the hearts of children everywhere. The lulling text will work well to soothe young activists, but the tricky concept of peace requires an older understanding. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15.8% of actual size.)

Poignant, broad strokes invite a deep delve. (Picture book. 3-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4449-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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