A LAST GOODBYE

Kelsey and Kim’s latest brings author and illustrator together to spark conversations about an ineffable, arduous subject: death.

Scientifically sound and philosophically profound, Kelsey’s spare, graceful first-person text directly addresses a dying dearest while Kim’s visuals provide insights from fellow life-forms’ mourning rituals. Readers may watch through tears as elephants support the frail with tusk and trunk, whales lift their loved ones to the ocean’s surface for a final breath, and chimps lay the ailing down to groom their hair. Forthright, euphemism-free language refreshes: These animals are indeed dying, and it’s wise to acknowledge this fact. As life leaves the body, readers bear witness to howler monkeys crying out, hyenas sorrowfully cuddling, and gorillas silently tending to their beloved’s final moments. Suspended from fishing wire in wooden frames, Kim’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are suffused with softest blacks and deepest blues, luxuriant greens and gentle magentas. Each diorama relies on illusions of depth to balance intricately detailed cutouts with stark backgrounds. Soon, mourners gather as a community. Orcas, elephants, and chimps assemble in a splendid spiral to pay respects while magpies and elephants place flowers and leaves as tokens of their affection. Eventually, melancholy melts into a sensitive celebration of the life cycle as bodies decompose and serve as staging grounds for new beginnings; “our lives plant a long line of love in this wild, thriving planet.”

Staggering. (author’s note, website) (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-364-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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