A sweet demonstration of how friendship can transcend language barriers.

WE LAUGH ALIKE / JUNTOS NOS REÍMOS

A STORY THAT'S PART SPANISH, PART ENGLISH, AND A WHOLE LOT OF FUN

Two groups of friends, one that speaks English, the other speaking Spanish, encounter each other at the park and learn to communicate through the language of play.

The two languages are reflected in a responsive dual text, though not an exact translation, that allows readers to engage with each group’s thinking and understanding. “We listen to the other kids, even though we don’t understand a word of Spanish. / Escuchamos a los tres niños, aunque no sabemos inglés.” The literal translations are: “Escuchamos a los otros niños, a pesar de no entender una palabra de español. / We listen to the three children, even though we don’t know English.” The two groups—both racially diverse—cautiously observe each other and then each begins to learn the other’s games until they are counting, jumping rope, dancing, singing, and playing together. The cheery art using scanned textures and bold colors highlights the activity, setting it in a city park in the shadow of numerous skyscrapers. The simple, dual text works well to establish the concept that these children have much in common. But the wording of the English title, We Laugh Alike, is awkward in comparison to the Spanish version, which translates as Together We Laugh and jibes better with the spirit of the story. Nevertheless, the children are alike in their eagerness to befriend one another and laugh together.

A sweet demonstration of how friendship can transcend language barriers. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-096-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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