Little listeners who have been on both sides of this friendship equation will identify with this thoughtful (but never...

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WHAT ABOUT HARRY?

Can Harry and Sam’s friendship survive a kingship?

Big bear Harry and little bear Sam are best friends who decide to play kings one day. First they need crowns. Harry’s is golden, but Sam’s is huge and bejeweled. Harry’s sand castle is lumpy, while Sam’s is highly detailed and has a moat. On the swings, little Sam soars high while Harry’s bottom drags the ground. The other woodland creatures heap praise on Sam for his all-around excellence, and Harry begins to notice his efforts are nothing compared to Sam’s easy skills. When they play kings of the pond and the creatures begin chanting Sam’s name, Harry’s had enough. He splashes everyone with a big dive and goes to play at being king by himself. Neither bear has fun alone, and Harry gets an idea to patch up the friendship his jealousy nearly ruined. Hot Rod Hamster illustrator Anderson writes and illustrates this gentle tale of the green-eyed monster. That the Greek chorus of forest critters speak in speech balloons throughout while Harry and Sam’s dialogue is set within the narrative text nicely sets their praise outside the friends’ relationship. The illustrations neatly manage pacing with shifts from full spreads to vignettes; created with ink and Photoshop, they are adorable and cartoony.

Little listeners who have been on both sides of this friendship equation will identify with this thoughtful (but never preachy) outing. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-240259-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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