Its heart’s in the right place, but the execution’s lackluster.

RUNNING ACROSS AMERICA

A TRUE STORY OF DREAMS, DETERMINATION, AND HEADING FOR HOME

How do you make a dream a reality?

In 1978, at age 23, McGillivray, inspired by a cyclist who rode 3,000 miles across the country, began a run of nearly 3,450 miles across America to raise money for kids with cancer. How did he do it? With four years of planning, grit, hope, and appreciation of others for a start. This well-intentioned autobiographical selection traces his route, focusing on his resilience, his hard work, and the lessons he learned along the way. Colorful, sometimes awkward illustrations accompany a text that’s full of positivity, each double-page spread concluding with an affirmation such as “BIG dreams require BIG Faith” or “Every dream is sprinkled with doubts. Dream anyway!” While the story’s—and McGillivray’s—aspirations are praiseworthy, the tale itself, clearly designed to inspire others, has a tone that’s disarming but sometimes pedantic, and the development of skill and necessity of practice are glossed over in favor of the account of the run itself. Still, this selection may well inspire and motivate youngsters and can easily serve as a vehicle to teaching and developing social emotional skills, the importance of setting and reaching goals, and the need for fundraising and volunteerism. McGillivray and most of the people he encounters present white; there are some people of color in the backgrounds.

Its heart’s in the right place, but the execution’s lackluster. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61930-875-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nomad Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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