FIREBOY TO THE RESCUE!

Fear not! Fireboy is here! And in his tight red suit with emblazoned FB, yellow cape, rakish mask with feathery flame and, of course, black boots trimmed with yellow, Fireboy is sure to keep readers’ attention. Covering the basics of reporting a fire, how to get out, how to prevent fires and what safety devices every home should have, Miller addresses the important points in a way that instructs but is unlikely to instill fear in his audience. Also addressed are the importance of having fire drills at home and what to do in case of a fire in a high-rise building. Filled with asides that give often-overlooked tips, this stands out among other fire-safety texts. Apropos to the superhero theme, the graphic artwork relies on comic-book style—bright colors, blocky shapes, dotted backgrounds, speech bubbles and several typefaces in many sizes. Into this he also tosses a few collaged items—some artwork, fire hydrants, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and smoke alarms. A little late for Fire Safety Week, but surely one to keep in mind for next October. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2222-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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A warm and necessary message of empowerment for black children, helping them see that raising their hands is a celebration...

HANDS UP!

This picture book offers a different take on a black body raising “hands up.”

Vibrant, colorfully textured illustrations show different displays of black children raising hands, such as playing peekaboo, getting dressed, and other mundane activities. The book follows one little girl as she puts her hands up to do chores, to reach for books on a high shelf at the library, and even to assume the fifth position in ballet class. She holds up her bun as her grandmother does her hair, throws her arms up “in praise and worship,” and hoists a trophy after a victorious basketball game. Riding her bike with her hands up results in a fall, but there is a caring adult there to pick her back up. McDaniel sends a positive and affirming message that normalizes for black children the gesture of raising their hands, redeeming it from the very negative, haunting images of black people raising their hands while being confronted by police. The book closes with a bold illustration of children of all colors raising their hands and holding signs such as “Water = Life,” “Spread Love,” and “Black Lives Matter.” Evans employs a pastel palette that amplifies McDaniel’s sunny message. Outlines are done in purple, blue, brown—there are no literally black marks in this book.

A warm and necessary message of empowerment for black children, helping them see that raising their hands is a celebration of their humanity. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55231-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Despite its visual flaws, this book will help a small, deserving readership.

HAPPY RIGHT NOW

A young child learns to reach for happiness.

The young narrator, a black child with cornrows and afro puffs, thinks of many acquisitions and happenings that would bring happiness. The glum kid will be happy after getting “a puppy, / a unicorn, / an ice-cream sundae.” Or when “everyone adores me.” But each time, the narrator adds, “Or, I can be happy right now.” As the difficulties standing in the way of happiness grow harder to bear—sickness, sadness, and sorrows—the narrator more actively counteracts them. The kid can “snuggle down for a sleepy snooze” or “breathe right now / … / Feel my body relax… // …Know that happy will find me again soon.” The final spread shows the child balancing on a branch, reaching toward a cat, knowing that “I’ll be happy when / I’m hopeful, / cheerful, / helpful, / thankful. / Reaching for happy / until I can grab it.” While most children (and adults) can relate to negative thought patterns, this book may be most helpful for those who experience mild forms of anxiety and depression, the text incorporating cognitive, physiological, and action-based tools to improve mood and combat negativity. The illustrations convey only two emotions—sad and happy—and an embodied “worry monkey” (whose fur is unfortunately reminiscent of the narrator’s afro puffs) scampers about on two spreads.

Despite its visual flaws, this book will help a small, deserving readership. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68364-352-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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