Awe-inspiring artwork as powerful as any force of nature.

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THE WEATHER'S BET

Three heavenly powers look down upon a shepherd girl and bet which one can knock her cap off.

Young’s atmospheric, textured artwork conjures the natural forces vying to mess with a mortal’s cap in this loose retelling of an old Aesop’s fable. Photographs, fabric, and paper (sometimes torn, sometimes cut) cohere in evocative collages that capture both the expansive powers of Wind, Rain, and Sun as well as the young girl’s brown skin, cheekbones, eyelashes, and strands of ebony hair. Weather blows, mists, and shines in teeming double-page, full-bleed spreads. Occasional sharp lines and solid color (the red cap serves as a cardinal beacon) give readers sound footing to navigate the complex collages. Distinguishing landmasses, sheep, the girl, and sky from one another sometimes requires squinting, but looking at these challenging compositions feels exhilarating—like standing, happily drenched, in a swirling storm. Cowan’s simple, consistent rhyme provides reassuring scaffolding that keeps readers from blowing away. Upon hearing the pleasing verse “For with the passing morning storm, / She laughed her cap off as she got warm,” young people will feel warmth spread in their little souls too. Frontmatter explicates the symbols assigned to Wind, Rain, and Sun, which were created using Chinese pictograms and appear throughout.

Awe-inspiring artwork as powerful as any force of nature. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51382-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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Utterly charming, and informative, to boot; readers brought up on a diet of rhymes, bright colors and adorable fluffy...

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW

A young child enjoying a full day of cross-country skiing narrates this gentle tale, explaining both her own activities and what the animals are doing.

“Over the snow I glide, past beech trees rattling leftover leaves and strong, silent pines that stretch to the sky. On a high branch, a great horned owl keeps watch. Under the snow, a tiny shrew dodges columns of ice; it follows a cool tunnel along the moss, out of sight.” A deer, bullfrogs, beavers, a fox, mice, chipmunks, a bear and a bumblebee are among the other animal inhabitants of the “secret kingdom” under the snow; some are snoozing, some foraging and some hunting for the others. Backmatter includes an author’s note, a paragraph of information about each featured animal and a list for further reading. Neal’s two-dimensional mixed-media illustrations are minimal in both detail and color. Simple outlines give shape to the trees, animals and leaves, while white is the predominant color. The lyrical descriptions of the text and the gray/brown/ice-blue palette of the illustrations leave readers with a retro feel that harkens back to earlier days of children’s books and bygone times when life seemed simpler.

Utterly charming, and informative, to boot; readers brought up on a diet of rhymes, bright colors and adorable fluffy animals will find its simple beauty a balm. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6784-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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