Moral: It’s never too early to learn to stand up for yourself or others in the face of injustice.

GET UP, STAND UP

A simple modification of famous lyrics to spread an anti-bullying message that is as necessary today as on the day the song that inspired it was released.

In her third picture book offering that uses one of her father’s songs as inspiration, Cedella Marley (Every Little Thing, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, 2012, etc.) touches on the topics of bullying and ostracism and on the courage it takes to combat them. She delivers a statement about social justice and bravery in an appropriately simple style that children can grasp. The result is a message of empowerment and unity: that standing up for yourself inspires others to do the same and may help to bring people together rather than continue a practice of exclusion and belittling. It is very much in keeping with the import of Bob Marley’s words in the song of the same name. Vibrant illustrations from Cabuay show a diverse cast of children, which will certainly help with accessibility to children from all walks of life. He depicts children getting up and standing up at the bus stop and on the bus, on city streets, and in parks. The final joyous double-page spread finds a joyous, multiracial crowd joining a neighborhood festival above which flies a flag depicting the late musician and the legend “One Love.”

Moral: It’s never too early to learn to stand up for yourself or others in the face of injustice. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-452-17172-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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This appealing work is an excellent addition to any emotional-intelligence shelf.

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THE RABBIT LISTENED

Author/illustrator Doerrfeld gives children a model for how to process difficult events and provide meaningful support to friends who need it.

Taylor is excited to build a block tower, but then a flock of birds swoops in and knocks it all down. Different animal friends try to help, in ways that cleverly mirror their nature: the bear shouts, the ostrich buries its head in the wreckage, and the snake hisses about revenge. But what Taylor (who is never referred to with gendered pronouns) really needs is to explore a whole range of emotional responses to loss, without being asked to perform any specific feeling. A cuddly rabbit shows up and just listens, giving Taylor—an expressive child with light skin, curly dark hair, and blue-and-white–striped one-piece pajamas—space for the whole process, going from grief to anger to resolution. The illustrations are spare yet textured, and the pace is excellent for reading aloud, with lots of opportunities for funny voices and discussion starters about supporting anyone through a hard time. Despite the obvious takeaway, this story doesn’t feel overly moralizing or didactic. Keeping the focus on the small tragedy of tumbled blocks makes it young-child–appropriate, with opportunities for deeper connections with an older audience.

This appealing work is an excellent addition to any emotional-intelligence shelf. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2935-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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