An exploration of community and belonging that’s highly recommended for all families and all bookshelves.


Inspired by the author’s childhood memories of attending San Francisco Pride, this picture book offers a delightfully dynamic child’s-eye view of the festivities.

Emily, a young White girl, and her two White moms take the train to join their “family of friends” alongside the parade route. Emily narrates the story in the first person, relaying her observations. She admires the bikers and the loud, proud, colorful marchers and performers, who vary in size, skin color, physical ability, and age and who wear “whatever makes them feel most like themselves.” But when Mommy spots a group of LGBTQ+ families (“just like us!”) marching and suggests they join them, Emily worries she’s “not loud or proud enough to be in the parade.” Her moms’ poignant, encouraging responses are just what she (and likely, many readers) needs to hear. Neilson employs simple, accessible language to deliver a buoyant tale that fleshes out the notion of Pride—an integral cultural concept within the LGBTQ+ community—by showing rather than telling. The stylized digital illustrations include true-to-life details that affectionately reflect the array of outfits, identities, and signage one might encounter at a Pride celebration. Meanwhile, the pitch-perfect visual pacing (the artwork shifts effortlessly between immersive, full-bleed pages and spot illustrations) captures the movement, scope, and many moods of the parade. Readers familiar with San Francisco may recognize the BART train, which helps establish the setting. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An exploration of community and belonging that’s highly recommended for all families and all bookshelves. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32658-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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As insubstantial as hot air.


A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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