With more than 2.7 million American children experiencing the incarceration of a parent, this book is a necessary one.

READ REVIEW

FAR APART, CLOSE IN HEART

BEING A FAMILY WHEN A LOVED ONE IS INCARCERATED

The subtitle of this picture book says it all.

A racially and ethnically diverse sampling of children exemplify the grief and discomfort that come with losing a parent to incarceration. Lacey’s scared with one of her moms in jail; Rashid’s mom is in jail for the second time; both Juana’s mami and her papi are in prison, so she and her siblings are spread out among foster homes. Yen has hard questions only her mother can answer, so she mails them to her. Rafael must fend off intrusive questions from the other kids. In Birtha’s direct, sympathetic text and Kastelic’s muted pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, these children and more evince loneliness, anger, shame, and fear. Birtha gives them sympathetic adults, such as a coach who won’t let Jermaine’s teammates mock him and the teacher who listens to Atian, who’s been acting out. Tips on talking to children with incarcerated parents and further resources are included in the backmatter; these, combined with the direct, role-modeling text, make this book as valuable for adult readers as it is for children. The purposeful inclusion of a white child and an Asian-American child helps to dispel stereotypes, while the inclusion of African-American and Latino children reflects U.S. prison demographics. Class disparities are only hinted at; the children are not obviously well-to-do but all seem to inhabit reasonably comfortable settings.

With more than 2.7 million American children experiencing the incarceration of a parent, this book is a necessary one. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1275-3

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more