A trifle loosely rendered but clever and perceptive.

THE CHALK RAINBOW

A child finds an imaginative way to help her autistic little brother cope with his aversion to an all too common hue.

“My brother Zane is different to other kids,” explains the British narrator: he has a made-up language; really likes to line things up; and most of all, “he hates the colour black.” This not only leads him to avoid the “soft fall” at the playground (some sort of padding, to judge from the illustrations), but also to refuse to cross any blacktopped street or driveway and to fall into a furious tantrum if his clueless parents try to force the issue. But he happily joins his sister in drawing a chalk rainbow on the porch—a rainbow that extends down the sidewalk and, thanks to the thick smears of colored chalk on their hands, just keeps going all the way across the street to the playground and back. “Soon there are rainbows everywhere!” Though the oversized heads and soft-focus features of this white family lend a generic air to the episode, the arcs of imaginary rainbow are as bright and present as the actual chalked part, and they convey a buoyant sense of triumph as they lengthen to fill the pictures with light and color. By the closing cuddle, even mom and dad are making rainbow bridges.

A trifle loosely rendered but clever and perceptive. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-925335-45-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: EK Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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