Johnson (Sunday Week, 1999, etc.) and Ransome (The Secret of the Stones, 2000, etc.) create an affirming story of an African-American family. The girl narrator praises her grandma “Hattie Lottie Annie Quinnie Blue” and bets that she was just like her, since, it turns out, she's named after her. “Quinnie Blue, I bet you walked barefoot outdoors. Did you hear your mama say, ‘Girl, put some shoes on your feet or you might get worms?’ Or did she say, ‘Doesn't the green grass feel good tickling your toes?’” Ransome illustrates the rural Carolina setting in rich-colored oil paintings, echoing Johnson's refrain of “Quinnie Blue” with a vibrant cobalt that shows up in each composition. The page or page-and-a-half spreads are set on a frame of stained wood, against which the text and collaged spot painting make each double-paged spread feel like an open scrapbook. Cleverly, and intrinsic to the book’s success, he’s illustrated both Quinnies. On the blue-stained wood frames we see a young Grandma Quinnie sitting on the porch with family or climbing a fence; on the pink-stained wood frames we see contemporary Quinnie playing clap games (on the very same porch) or reciting at church. In these pictures, Grandma Quinnie often watches from the background, until the two are brought together at the end. Both the young Quinnies are realistic and energetic; the illustrations of both time periods have an immediacy typical of Ransome’s work. The rhythm of the text, along with the details and celebratory mood of the illustrations, makes this an excellent choice for family sharing. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-4378-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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


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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