THE SEMICOLON

A heartfelt story of navigating emptiness and finding hope for the future.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

In Sayler’s debut children’s book, a youngster is at a loss after their father’s departure but finds unexpected solace in a punctuation mark.

Every night “after Dad left,” the unnamed narrator has dreamt of a black pit that swallows everything, including them. One day, Mr. Smeechie, the protagonist’s father’s teaching colleague, drops by and gives the child a copy of their father’s grammar book, along with a quick lesson. Two nights later, the child has the same nightmare, but this time, punctuation marks offer support to navigate the darkness. When they learn of their father’s favorite symbol, the semicolon, it helps them reach a place of fond memories: “I saw the black pit…But I also saw the comma, the raft that meant there was a way across.” Rewerenda’s dark, wondrous illustrations sensitively depict the protagonist’s shifting emotions; the narrator is depicted as light skinned and slim, with shoulder-length black hair, and Mr. Smeechie is portrayed as brown skinned with glasses and a beard. Overall, the book offers a great way to encourage young people with grief and depression to open up. It also shows that not having the words to describe one’s feelings is a common part of life and that there are always ways to carry on.

A heartfelt story of navigating emptiness and finding hope for the future.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2022

ISBN: 9781039120679

Page Count: 36

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2022

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

Close Quickview