A good way to introduce the youngest readers to extended narratives in verse.

READ REVIEW

THINKER

MY PUPPY POET AND ME

A puppy gets a new home and a new family while learning to communicate.

When 7-year-old Jace receives a new pet dog, he picks out the perfect name for a puppy who believes he is a poet. “We’ll name you ‘Thinker,’ yes, I think / that that’s the name for you.” Jace, too, is a poet. “When I recite my poems, / I make music.” Not permitted to attend school with Jace, Thinker spends time at home with Jace’s little sister, Kimmy, and visits with his twin, who lives nearby. At last, it’s “Pets’ Day at school,” but Jace doesn’t want his poet puppy to speak. As Thinker knows, he’s afraid “his friends will say / he’s a weird kid, with a weird pet.” Despite his best effort not to, Thinker recites a poem—but all the other pets join in with their own special talents, to the delight of the teacher, students, and even Jace. Greenfield brings her vast experience to this delightful piece of poetic whimsy that celebrates the powers of poetry, family, and friendship. Jace’s family is African-American while neighbors and schoolmates are pictured as diverse. The poems are primarily free verse, but there are haiku and rap as well. Iranian illustrator Abdollahi uses expressive handmade and -colored paper collages to complement the mood. The light and liveliness of the pictures are eye-catching and appealing, and the color palette is warm and rich, further enhancing the poetry.

A good way to introduce the youngest readers to extended narratives in verse. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7724-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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