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Gorgeous and enlightening, nourishing both mind and soul.

Weatherford infuses the lyrics of a traditional spiritual with pivotal events in African American history.

In four-line stanzas, references to the unseen narrator (“It’s me, it’s me, O Lord”), the ancestors, and present-day children alternate with the line “Standing in the need of prayer.” From “families enslaved and sold apart,” “a band of rebels,” and “freedmen seeking kin at Emancipation” to Black students integrating all-White schools, athletes breaking records, and choirs singing of justice and freedom, African Americans from across the eras and generations are humbled before God as they face mighty obstacles with brave resistance and endurance. Readers don’t need to know the song to enjoy this book; the repeated lines have the power of an incantation, inducing a meditation on all that Black people have survived and how they have thrived. Morrison’s elegant, emotional, painterly illustrations highlight the beauty, dignity, and grace of the people throughout difficult and degrading circumstances. Rich earth tones, texture, and light invite the eye to linger on the varied, portrait-style compositions. Not just for faithful homes, this is a book that can spark conversations about Black history from a strengths-based lens, with culture and coping as the focus. Brief notes discuss the figures and topics referenced in the main text, and an author’s note explains the importance of spirituals to the culture and to Weatherford personally. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gorgeous and enlightening, nourishing both mind and soul. (online resources) (Historical picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30634-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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