Conversations about motivations and actions will abound as children absorb the impact of grace.

NIGHT SHADOWS

Nocturnal shadows are what fall on an old woman’s garage wall as kids repeatedly spray it with graffiti.

On the first evening, Mrs. Lucy’s body also casts an imposing shadow in her doorway’s yellow light as the children escape into the blue darkness. The dramatic, diagonal figure recalls Young’s rendering of the mother catching her son in DaCosta’s Nighttime Ninja (2012). The next day, a group of boys—silhouetted as a unit—exiles a younger sister as they prepare to play baseball. Tasha encounters Mrs. Lucy painting over the words (which readers never see). The girl offers to help on this day and the next, milk and cookies are her compensation. Skin tone is created with brown paper. The woman’s sumptuous robe is fashioned from crinkled gold paper, overlaid with soft blue and lacy green fibers; the girl’s shirt is a marbleized magenta and blue pattern. On the third night, the victim hides in the lilac bushes and is shocked that this time the sole vandal is Tasha. Her plaintive explanation: “I just—I just wanted to come over again.” Speechless, the woman allows compassion to prevail, promising they have a lot of work to do—together. The rich, restrained text and visually exciting collages build suspense and surprise in tandem. Readers will turn back, now detecting subtle clues. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64.9% of actual size.)

Conversations about motivations and actions will abound as children absorb the impact of grace. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-024-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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