Quite a treat! (Picture book. 3-7)

HUNTERS OF THE GREAT FOREST

An intrepid band conquers a rugged landscape to capture an unusually tasty conquest in this funny, wordless story.

As they bid their families farewell, the seven hunters—two are women—carry assorted, important-looking objects: a map, spear, rucksack and more. The gallant troupe scales cliffs and clambers over enormous tree roots. They begin to encounter flora and fauna so huge that readers’ perceptions shift—these folk are teeny. Dwarfed by a towering toad, angry mama bird and snarling chipmunk, the tiny hunters startle and run, losing possessions one after the other. Finally, they tiptoe into a shadowy cave and spy their surprising “prey.” A girl, her face illuminated by a campfire’s glow, toasts a marshmallow, a brimming bag of the treats nearby. It takes four hunters to wrangle their single, sweet prize home; a fifth wards off crafty ants. Nolan’s watercolor, ink and colored-pencil illustrations employ dizzying perspective and a lovely palette in tints of ochre, blue and lavender. While the animals are portrayed realistically, the little hunters might be described as “Palmer Cox’s Brownies meet R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural.” Sporting wild hair (topknots, long braids, bushy mustaches and beards), their faces—with identical round-dot eyes, pendulous noses and undrawn mouths—are impassive throughout. Their roundish, thin-limbed bodies convey the story as they scamper home for the village’s own marshmallow toast.

Quite a treat! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-896-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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

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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

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