With no takeaway lesson and little to hold readers’ interest, this is one stone to skip.

JEROME THE STONE

A stone who dreams of flight gets his wish.

An anthropomorphized stone who sports a jaunty acorn-cap hat observes the world around him and wishes he could see and do the things others do. But unlike the insects all around him—the hopping grasshoppers, the marching ants, the buzzing bees—Jerome knows he cannot even move on his own. (In a funny sequence of vignettes, he exerts great effort, but only his facial features move.) But then, “Without any warning, Jerome was soaring through the air,” kicked by a boy who then stows the rock in his pocket. Readers—and Jerome—quickly learn the boy’s intent, as he places Jerome just so, pulls back, and lets fly with a slingshot. Jerome’s flight is marvelous, though impossible with regard to the rules of physics; he ends up in space before coming back to Earth to hit a bullseye (hat still on) and wonder what tomorrow will bring. The simplistic cartoon illustrations don’t seem tailored for the same audience as the wordy, pedestrian text. Moreover, as a character, Jerome is literally inert; his only arc is his flight, and readers will wonder what the overall point is. The perspective changes and Jerome’s expressive face really put readers in his shoes, uhmmm, hat, though.

With no takeaway lesson and little to hold readers’ interest, this is one stone to skip. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73277-132-1

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Doodle and Peck Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.

WHAT IF...

A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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