A luminous allegory that celebrates the necessity of connection.

READ REVIEW

NIGHT OUT

A lonely child’s dream of a joyous party with animal friends becomes a bridge to friendship with other children.

Miyares’ lovely gouache-and-pencil compositions set the scene: In the dining hall of an imposing boarding school, a sad child sits apart. In their dorm room, beside a shadowy row of sleeping kids, the wakeful child’s face is illuminated by moonlight. Nearby, a pet turtle seems about to escape its fishbowl terrarium. The dream begins with a formal invitation—sealing wax and all—propped against the now-empty fishbowl. As a glorious full moon beckons, the child, suddenly clothed in red-flannel shirt and jeans and wearing a backpack, escapes out the window to a waiting bike and helmet. The journey through woods to sea is lushly depicted, and the turtle, now huge, ferries the child to a cave full of welcoming animals. Fox, goose, hare, bear, and owl treat the child to tea, sweets, and music: Each plays an instrument as turtle claps and the child dances. “A night out ends, / as a new day breaks.” After being carried back ashore, the child bikes back to school and clambers into bed. A final spread shows the child in pajamas, small-again turtle in hand, regaling five roommates; the final endpapers show them eating together. The protagonist has pale skin and straight, black hair in a cropped cut, and their classmates display a variety of skin tones and hair textures.

A luminous allegory that celebrates the necessity of connection. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6572-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more