WHO'S YOUR REAL MOM?

Potentially affirming—and potentially exhausting.

A child deflects persistent questioning about their family.

Elvi (a child of color with light brown skin and straight, brown hair) has two moms (one of whom has darker skin and hair and one, lighter than Elvi). When Nicholas (who has light brown skin and curly hair) comes over to their house, he asks, “Elvi, which one is your real mom?” Elvi’s initial, confident retort is: “They’re both my real mom.” Elvi patiently offers similar responses as Nicholas persists, then starts to have a little fun with Nicholas. As if to point out the ridiculousness of the questions, Elvi asserts, “She’s the one who can do a handstand on one finger,” and “She’s the one who’s a pirate in disguise.” Meanwhile, the illustrations juxtapose realistic scenes of the children and Elvi’s moms in the background with pictures of the imagined scenarios, the latter of which use lots of blue to visually signify their fantastic nature. Later, Elvi shifts gears to explain that their real mom is “the one who holds me when I’m scared” and “who tucks me into bed.” Nicholas says, “Don’t they both do that?” and Elvi replies, “Exactly.” Ideally, readers who need this message will grasp it sooner than Nicholas does, though perhaps the book’s impact will have more power for those who read it as validation of their own experiences enduring microaggressions.

Potentially affirming—and potentially exhausting. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950354-24-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scribble

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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