Expressive illustrations and text rich with poetic vocabulary share a sensitive story with a message about asking for help...

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AT THE END OF HOLYROOD LANE

A young girl conquers her fear of storms and learns to ask for help.

At her home beneath the beech trees at the end of Holyrood Lane, young Flick loves to frolic, cavort, and play in the sunshine. She dreads the unpredictable arrival of storms that hurt her ears, ruin her fun, and make her feel small. During the storms, she hides on her own from the thunder. One day, while chasing a rainbow, Flick finds herself caught amid the dark clouds, winds, and rain with no time to hide. Vivid language and personification heighten the intensity of the storms, giving them force and raging emotions. When storms arrive, they “bully the curtains,” “smother sunshine,” “ransack fun,” and “fume.” The watercolor illustrations that accompany the text fill the pages, leaving no space without a purpose. Swirling clouds in deep grays and blues press in on Flick, even when she hides inside under the laundry basket or her bed, capturing the energy of her frightened imagination. Although the story focuses on the theme of overcoming fears, the text never invalidates Flick’s concerns. In order to face what frightens her, Flick learns that she can seek help when she feels overwhelmed. Flick, who presents white, appears alone throughout save one illustration in which she shares an umbrella with a mostly hidden companion, a device that focuses readers’ attention on her agency and choice.

Expressive illustrations and text rich with poetic vocabulary share a sensitive story with a message about asking for help when a situation feels scary. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-925335-76-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: EK Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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