Targeted and right on target.

READ REVIEW

WHEN A KID LIKE ME FIGHTS CANCER

A child who has cancer learns what this means.

The first-person narrator, a kid with light-brown skin and curly black hair, begins the story with the diagnosis: “We get the news…I find out I’m a kid who has to deal with cancer.” No type of cancer is named. The text focuses gently around a learning theme: that cancer isn’t catching and isn’t anyone’s fault, that researchers far and wide are working on treatments, that “cancer is something you fight.” This patient has ample emotional support from parents, the medical team, and friends—the town even does a dedicated research fundraiser—and other child patients find moments in the hospital for silliness. However, fatigue and hair loss come along (a red hat is handy), and sometimes child and parent cry together, with sadness and fear unnamed but present. Chang plays with scale, making the kid tiny when enveloped in a parent’s arms and showing a bed as extra-long to emphasize its new primary role. Faces express a range of feelings but mildly, which will serve readers who have cancer (or who have friends with cancer) well. Mom has beige skin; the other parent (ungendered and tall) has medium-brown skin and curly black hair. There’s no prognosis, but the end hits a comforting note in the final item the protagonist learns: “I am not fighting alone.”

Targeted and right on target. (introduction) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6391-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

A WORLD TOGETHER

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 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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