Joey loves things that fold, like maps, his accordion, and even his foldaway bed, so when he sees a classmate’s mother folding an origami crane, he’s captivated.
Mrs. Takimoto explains that she can teach Joey the folds, but the only way to become an origami master is with “practice and patience.” He takes the instruction seriously and practices with every piece of paper he can find, including his sister’s sheet music and his mother’s dollar bills, before being asked to stop. His neighbor friend Mr. Lopez sees Joey’s dedication and lets him fold the napkins in his restaurant in progressively more complicated shapes until the little boy finally masters the crane. On seeing the crane, a little girl is captivated. Joey offers to teach her but warns that it takes “practice—and lots of patience!” Kleber uses simple language but gives young readers great credit for understanding multiple concepts conveyed at once, and the story is all the better for it. Karas’ soulful illustrations depict Joey with brown skin and cropped, textured hair, with other characters drawn to show other ethnicities. His art shows his hand, the textured pencil, and pastel strokes evident on the page, which gives the book a gentle, handmade feel. It’s an excellent companion to Kleber’s story, which encourages patience, practice, and sharing creativity and finishes with a simple origami lesson for readers to try.
From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.
Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.
A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.
Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)