A sunny, affirmative testimonial to the power of positive thinking.


A young teen with a stutter connects with another member of the same club: then–presidential candidate Joe Biden.

With nearly unwavering positivity Harrington presents in third person his experiences as a 13-year-old who loved to talk even though words sometimes “got caught in his mouth.” At a campaign meet and greet, he is thrilled by the candidate’s frank admission that as a teenager he too had “bumpy speech.” Feeling “truly understood for the first time,” the author overcomes his nerves to address (via video) the 2020 Democratic National Convention and to speak at the subsequent inauguration. Having realized that his stutter is “one of his greatest strengths,” he closes on a personal note: “So don’t be scared to speak up, speak out, and use your voice. You are amazing just the way you are!” With rare exceptions, Tang depicts him as a wide-eyed, confident-looking lad, whether exchanging smiles with Biden, surrounded by his supportive family (all, like Harrington, White), or chatting with racially diverse groups of friends and classmates. Though packing nowhere near the emotional punch of Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith’s I Talk Like a River (2020), the reassuring tone and message may promote improved self-esteem in readers struggling with speech (or other) difficulties of their own. An afterword offers said readers and their caregivers simple insights and suggestions. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sunny, affirmative testimonial to the power of positive thinking. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-309829-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history



In 1918, José de la Luz Sáenz left his teaching job and enlisted in the United States Army, where he joined thousands of other Mexican American soldiers.

“He wanted to demonstrate that Mexican Americans loved America and would give their lives fighting for it,” writes Tonatiuh. Luz felt that the white people of Texas would start treating Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) fairly after seeing their sacrifice. Once in France, Luz taught himself French and was assigned to the intelligence office to translate communications, but he was not given credit or promotions for this vital work. After the war, he and other Tejano veterans found prejudice against them unchanged. They organized and became civil rights leaders. In 1929, 10 years after the end of World War I, they formed the League of United Latin American Citizens. Together they fought against school segregation, racism, prejudice, and “for the ideals of democracy and justice.” The author’s insightful use of Sáenz’s war-diary entries boldly introduces this extraordinary American’s triumphs and struggles. In Tonatiuh’s now-trademark illustrations, Luz crouches with other stylized doughboys in French trenches as shells explode in no man’s land and mourns a fallen fellow Mexican in a French cemetery. Extensive backmatter includes an author’s note, war timeline, timeline of LULAC’s successful civil rights lawsuits, glossary, and bibliography.

An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history . (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3682-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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More problematic than problem-solving.


A discussion starter offering contrasting answers to the titular question.

Children are likely to find their thinking more muddled than clarified by this set of scenarios, as—whether due to poor phrasing in the original French or awkward translation—the alternatives are often inscrutable or nonsensical. The confusion begins with the title, which is transformed to “What Makes Us Happy?” on an inside gatefold. Either way, the question is addressed in a series of broadly brushed scenes featuring an array of familiar animals with human expressions acting in anti-social ways on the left and, beneath further gatefolds on the right, more cooperatively. Thus, to use one of the less-obscure examples, the alternatives “Keeping everything for yourself? // Or sharing what you have?” caption views of a duckling depicted first clutching a basket full of lollipops, then handing them out. At other times, though, readers are invited to decide between “Being better than others // Or doing well with others”; “Being protected from all dangers // Or daring to jump and have fun”; “Using something until there is no more” (a monkey gulping down a pile of bananas), or (said monkey training a garden hose on a few banana plants) “taking care of things so we can keep enjoying it” (sic).

More problematic than problem-solving. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62795-121-0

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Shelter Harbor Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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