Romantic and bracing.

READ REVIEW

AFTERNOON ON A HILL

A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay gets an illustrated treatment.

The 12 lines of Millay’s 1917 poem provide the whole text for this glorious nature outing. “I will be the gladdest thing / Under the sun!” opens the adventure, as the anonymous first-person narrator runs over grassy hills wearing a short-sleeved calico dress and sneakers. The poem can be read literally as realism, but in the illustrations, a fantasy realm grows. When the lines say “I will touch a hundred flowers / And not pick one,” a single flower grows to the scale of a sapling. The heads of massive birds peer out from between trees, their eyes intense and just this side of ominous. A forest, from a long view, is shaped like an animal, absorbing (not reflecting) sunlight even while the narrator’s peachy skin glows with reflected sun. When the poem lets the protagonist “[w]atch the wind bow down the grass, / And the grass rise,” the grass becomes a horizontally billowing ocean for the child to windsurf on, standing upright on an enormous leaf, arms outstretched, hair streaming. The illustrations are all full-bleed spreads; each has a different light. Domeniconi offsets acute, scientific-feeling, almost overpowering visual details on flowers and birds against vague, generic skies and distant trees. At dusk, lights glow in the distant town, and the narrator beds down—nestled in the antlers of a mighty animal, possibly an elk.

Romantic and bracing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56846-334-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Cool and stylish.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more