A useful conversation starter.



This picture-book guide introduces the concepts of pronouns, gender identity, and sex traits through the instruction of two narrator characters.

Welcoming readers with smiles and waves, Ellie, a Black child, and her friend Casey, a White teen, jump into a back-and-forth lesson about pronouns. After presenting the basics of what a pronoun is and examples of how to use one, they explain the traditional role of pronouns to indicate a male or female “biological sex.” Their conversation shifts into gender identity, providing definitions for “cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, and several other identities that fall under the umbrella of nonbinary. Although Ellie and Casey start with a binary foundation, they explore alternative singular pronouns, including they/them/theirs and neo-pronouns such as fae and xe and their different forms. Presented entirely through dialogue (often in speech bubbles), their guidance makes an important distinction between gender identity and pronouns, noting that anyone can use any pronouns, with encouragement to try out whichever pronouns feel good. Along with Casey and Ellie, diversely illustrated characters demonstrate etiquette, including how to ask someone’s pronouns or how to react after accidentally misgendering someone. Despite these strengths, the book falters in its consideration of intersex people. The definition of intersex appears out of place on the same page with neo-pronouns rather than during the discussion about sex. Additionally, the language that explains sex falls short in comparison to the rest of the sensitive standard of education in this guide. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A useful conversation starter. (resources, glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78775-957-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.


From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.


Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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