Sometimes being famous isn’t all that great, but this story of friendship, self-reliance, and overcoming jealousy is.

AMY IS FAMOUS

Amy is a star, but sharing the spotlight isn’t so easy.

When her teacher calls her a star, Amy believes she is famous. She loves being famous, signing autographs for her fans and dressing in the color of fame: red. But a new day at school brings a new girl named Cecile, and Cecile is also dressed like someone famous (Hermione Granger, accessorized, according to Cecile, with “the actual scarf” worn in a Harry Potter movie). Naturally, everyone wants to be Cecile’s friend, except for Amy. Amy’s mom encourages her to make friends, so she invites Cecile for a play date—but Cecile doesn’t want to do anything, because famous people have to always look pretty and stay clean. But that’s no fun. In the end, they agree being regular girls is better than being famous. Told from Amy’s perspective, the text ties together her experiences, imagination, and feelings. Bottner uses Amy’s teddy bear to share additional thoughts and feelings Amy may be having, similar to a conscience. While most of the illustrations are done on a white background, Chen uses color to express mood, with dull colors for sad moments and bright, bold colors for happiness. Amy and her mom present Asian, and her dad has brown skin and black hair; Cecile has light-brown skin and curly hair.

Sometimes being famous isn’t all that great, but this story of friendship, self-reliance, and overcoming jealousy is. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13490-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way.

PINKIE PROMISES

Lately, everyone seems intent on telling Polly what girls can’t do.

Whether it’s fixing a leak, building a model drawbridge, or washing a car, it seems like the world thinks that girls aren’t able to do anything. Polly is discouraged until she goes to a political rally with her mother. There, the two meet a White woman named Elizabeth (recognizably author Warren in Chua’s friendly illustrations) who’s running for president. She tells Polly that she is running because that’s what girls do: They lead. Polly and Elizabeth make a pinky promise to remember this truth. Polly decides that being a girl can’t prevent her from doing whatever she wants. Even though she’s a bit intimidated at attending a brand-new school, Polly decides to be brave—because that’s what girls do, and she makes a pinkie promise with her mom. At soccer, she’s under pressure to score the winning goal. She makes a pinkie promise with her coach to do her best, because that’s what girls do. And so on. By the end of the book, Polly ignores what she’s been told that girls can’t do and totally focuses on what they can do: absolutely anything they want. In the illustrations, Polly and her family have dark skin and straight, dark hair. The narrative is inspiring and child friendly, although the constant return to making pinkie promises feels like a distraction from the central message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80102-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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