An earnest, moving expression of what the world needs now—and what children have always needed: love, sweet love.

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ALL OF US

Cut-paper collages encourage readers to remember that “love wins,” even during painful, confusing times.

Berger populates this buoying book with people of all hues, genders, and love configurations: same-sex couples, adoptive parents, old partners, young lovebirds, interracial couples, children, lots of pets. They stand together, aligned in a powerful, peaceful phalanx (many holding LOVE banners and posters) on the final pages—three double-page spreads of little people in long, long lines. Studying the artwork’s embedded ephemera (handwritten letters, grid papers, old catalogs, and clippings) evokes thoughts about how humans can connect across time. Between the book’s rallying beginning and end, succinct, powerful illustrations depict the worry and sadness that surface in both a small child’s life and the grown-up world. A brown-skinned girl tries (literally) to lift a heavy heart (shape) off the ground; a dragon hovers in an enveloping dark sky; fog makes a path forward hard to see. Berger reminds readers that there are helpers, always, “steady as stone,” with a palm outstretched, open, offering a smooth rock. Accompanying a picture of a handshake (one dark-skinned and another light-skinned), she asserts “we are stronger together.” Adults might hear echoes of a recent campaign, but children will see only the linking of hands atop a fertile green backdrop and recognize an empowering affirmation.

An earnest, moving expression of what the world needs now—and what children have always needed: love, sweet love. (Picture book. 2-10)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-269413-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more...

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ALL ARE WELCOME

A lively city school celebrates its diversity.

Front endpapers show adult caregivers walking their charges to school, the families a delightful mix that includes interracial, same-sex, and heterosexual couples as well as single caregivers; the rear endpapers assemble them again at the conclusion of a successful schoolwide evening potluck. In between, the rhyming verses focus on aspects of a typical school day, always ending with the titular phrase: “Time for lunch—what a spread! / A dozen different kinds of bread. / Pass it around till everyone’s fed. / All are welcome here.” Indeed, this school is diversity exemplified. Several kids point to their home countries on a world map, and some wear markers of their cultural or religious groups: There’s a girl in hijab, a boy wearing a Sikh patka, and a boy in a kippah. A rainbow of hair colors and skin tones is in evidence, and children with disabilities are also included: a blind boy, a girl in a wheelchair, and several kids with glasses. What is most wonderful, though, is the way they interact with one another without regard to their many differences. Kaufman’s acrylic, ink, crayon, collage, and Photoshop illustrations bring the many personalities in this school community to life. “You have a place here. / You have a space here. / You are welcome here.”

Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more people, starting with this picture book’s audience, embrace it. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57964-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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