Sensitive and reassuring.

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MORRIS MICKLEWHITE AND THE TANGERINE DRESS

Young Morris definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer.

He likes his mom and his cat and lots of school activities. He especially enjoys the dress-up center, where he chooses a tangerine-colored dress that reminds him of “tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.” The dress also makes delightful sounds as he moves, and when he adds shoes that click, his joy is complete. None of this sits well with the other kids, who tease and ostracize him, leaving him isolated. One lonely Friday, hurt and upset, he pretends a tummy ache and stays home from school. Supported by his mother’s soothing, calming encouragement, he reads, dreams, and paints wild and wonderful adventures with blue elephants and spaceships. When he returns to school, tangerine dress and all, he wins over his classmates with his imaginative play and his new self-confidence. Baldacchino treats the tricky and controversial subject of expected gender behaviors and bullying with care and compassion, employing language and tone that avoid histrionics or preaching. Morris is a complex character whose creativity and personality shine. Malenfant’s lively and colorful illustrations, rendered in an unusual mix of charcoal, watercolor, pastel and Photoshop, are appealing and eye-catching and clearly depict Morris’ difficulties, dreams and triumphs. An opportunity for a cozy read-together and a lively discussion.

Sensitive and reassuring. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-347-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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