With its every detail—its masterful illustrations, its landscape format, and the elegant text that offers readers a way to...

THE DAM

In this picture book based on a true story, a father and daughter pay homage to the valley that will be flooded when a dam under construction is completed.

Early one morning, Kathryn, a young girl, is woken by her father and told, “Bring your fiddle.” They are visiting the valley that will soon be flooded when the Kielder Dam in Northumberland, England, is finished. In each empty house in the abandoned valley, Kathryn plays her fiddle while her father sings, as they remember and commemorate the music and the life that the houses have held. Author Almond’s narrative is quietly spare as it both reinforces and references illustrator Pinfold’s detailed, majestic illustrations—reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth’s work in both palette and grace. When the narrative says, “This was covered over. / This was drowned,” the small spot illustrations opposite, in a somber palette, create a sense of time, movement, and loss. And when, with the flick of the phrase, “The lake is beautiful” concludes the sequence, the narrative and illustrative tones change. Now the page turn reveals a majestic wordless double-page spread of the created lake, painted in soft blues and greens, and ensuing illustrations show people boating, swimming, and playing on the lakeshore.

With its every detail—its masterful illustrations, its landscape format, and the elegant text that offers readers a way to see the promise of new life from what has been destroyed—this book triumphs. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9597-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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