WAITING FOR CHICKEN SMITH

At the beach, a child waits for a summer friend to arrive.

The book’s narrator, a young child whose skin color varies from kraft-paper brown to graphite-pencil gray, is waiting for Chicken Smith. Every year, Chicken Smith and his father occupy a cabin near the one the narrator’s family stays in. But this year, Chicken is late, and the narrator waits, shell gift in hand, recalling past summer activities: how Chicken can kick a tennis ball from the porch to the beach and his dog, Jelly, will fetch it, and how they go to the lighthouse with Chicken’s binoculars to look for whales. Regularly interrupting these musings, the narrator’s sister, Mary Ann, keeps urging, “Hey! Look!” but the narrator puts her off. Finally Mary Ann yells, “Just hurry up!” and she dashes to the lighthouse, with the narrator following. “There he is!” shouts Mary Ann, and points—to a whale. “Even with binoculars, Chicken Smith and I never saw one,” relates the narrator. As the poignancy of Chicken’s nonarrival settles in (readers see a “Summer RENTAL” sign on his cabin), Mackintosh deftly delivers a satisfying conclusion as the narrator and Mary Ann begin to bond. Mackintosh’s text perfectly captures the timelessness of childhood summer, and his scribbly illustrations (done in pen, pencil, ink, watercolor, and kraft paper) conjure associations of a child’s project sketchbook, the handcrafted look underscored by the old-fashioned-typewriter typeface.

Just wonderful. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0771-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way.

PINKIE PROMISES

Lately, everyone seems intent on telling Polly what girls can’t do.

Whether it’s fixing a leak, building a model drawbridge, or washing a car, it seems like the world thinks that girls aren’t able to do anything. Polly is discouraged until she goes to a political rally with her mother. There, the two meet a White woman named Elizabeth (recognizably author Warren in Chua’s friendly illustrations) who’s running for president. She tells Polly that she is running because that’s what girls do: They lead. Polly and Elizabeth make a pinky promise to remember this truth. Polly decides that being a girl can’t prevent her from doing whatever she wants. Even though she’s a bit intimidated at attending a brand-new school, Polly decides to be brave—because that’s what girls do, and she makes a pinkie promise with her mom. At soccer, she’s under pressure to score the winning goal. She makes a pinkie promise with her coach to do her best, because that’s what girls do. And so on. By the end of the book, Polly ignores what she’s been told that girls can’t do and totally focuses on what they can do: absolutely anything they want. In the illustrations, Polly and her family have dark skin and straight, dark hair. The narrative is inspiring and child friendly, although the constant return to making pinkie promises feels like a distraction from the central message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80102-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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