Somewhat silly but slightly muddled; look elsewhere for meaningful guidance on coping with social anxiety.

READ REVIEW

SO EMBARRASSING

AWKWARD MOMENTS AND HOW TO GET THROUGH THEM

A cartoon dive into all things embarrassing.

Intending to show that “the better you understand [embarrassment], the better you control it,” Harper explores several common categories of embarrassment (“social oops,” “it’s on you and it shouldn’t be,” “parents in public,” etc.) before including the insights of real-life licensed health counselor Grace Y. Lin (depicted as a pink hippo). A string of characters accompany readers through the book: Badgey, who has “badges for bravery and words of wisdom”; an unnamed anthropomorphic dog who never gets embarrassed; and a host of child characters who act as examples for different scenarios (and who have a range of pink, tan, and brown skin). Busy pages, a two-dimensional character style, and all-caps lettering give the illustrations a doodled feel. Harper’s ultimate conclusion that “embarrassment + time = good story” reminds readers that time—and a sense of humor—can soften embarrassment. However, the book’s center may be lost as readers become bogged down in detailed examples that focus more often on embarrassing scenarios than on offering tools for reframing thinking, making this very much not a book for anyone with social anxiety.

Somewhat silly but slightly muddled; look elsewhere for meaningful guidance on coping with social anxiety. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-1017-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A timely, necessary read.

LA FRONTERA

EL VIAJE CON PAPÁ / MY JOURNEY WITH PAPA

Co-authors Mills and Alva demystify la frontera in this autobiographical tale based on Alva’s childhood journey with his father from Mexico to Texas.

To provide for his growing family, Alfredo’s father decides to journey northward to “find a new home.” Alfredo joins his papá on this arduous voyage, knowing he’ll miss his family and his small village. After saying goodbye to his home and loved ones, Alfredo sets off in the early morning light alongside his father. Led to the Rio Grande by el coyote, Papa and Alfredo cross the river with the help of an old inner tube. When el coyote abandons Alfredo and his father, the pair must escape further into the harsh Texan landscape, away from la frontera. Presented in both Spanish and English, the retrospective narrative overflows with grueling, poignant details about the journey Alfredo and his father undertook. Yet Navarro’s mixed-media artwork succeeds in emphasizing the more-hopeful aspects of Alva’s story, namely love and strength in a familial context. Vivid shifts in color, light, and shadows from scene to scene gently pull readers along, complemented by powerful facial expressions during key moments. After almost a week of struggles, Alfredo and his father arrive at “the Embassy,” a makeshift camp behind a factory. As father and son adjust to their new life in the U.S., they never forget about those left behind.

A timely, necessary read. (appendix) (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78285-388-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A change of pace from the typical blood-and-guts approach to the topic, populous enough to sate even the most rabid...

DINOSAUR EMPIRE!

JOURNEY THROUGH THE MESOZOIC ERA

From the Earth Before Us series , Vol. 1

A quick trip through the Mesozoic Era with a paleontologist is all young Ronnie needs to become a dino-maniac.

So desperate is Ronnie to better a dinosaur exam’s failing grade that she’s willing to follow her odd but scholarly neighbor Miss Lernin into a curbside recycling bin—which, thanks to “Science Magic,” leaves the two in the late Triassic. Between meeting plateosaurs on that stop and a cozy nuzzle with a T. rex in the late Cretaceous, Ronnie gets an earful about dinosaur anatomy, convergent evolution, types of prehistoric life, protofeathers and other recent discoveries, and (as Miss Lernin puts it) “the exciting world of…phylogenetic trees!!” But mostly what she gets are dinosaurs. The graphic panels teem with (labeled) prehistoric life including, along with dozens of dinos, many early mammals and other contemporaries. Howard depicts nearly all of this fauna with snub noses and such friendly expressions that in no time (so to speak) Ronnie is exclaiming “Oh my gosh…Jurassic crocodylomorphs were so cute!” Indeed, her white tutor agrees, but also cool, dangerous, and majestic. Ronnie, who is depicted as a black girl, returns to the present to earn a perfect score on a retaken test and go on to spread the dino-word to her diverse classmates. Though the lack of source or resource lists is disappointing, closing graphic recaps of major prehistoric creatures and, yes, a phylogenetic tree provide some review.

A change of pace from the typical blood-and-guts approach to the topic, populous enough to sate even the most rabid dinophiles. (glossary) (Graphic informational fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2306-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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