THIS IS A GIFT FOR YOU

The best things in life aren’t things….

Author/illustrator of the perennial bestseller The Wonderful Things You Will Be (2015), Martin has established herself as a picture-book maker with a talent for writing verses befitting sincere, heartfelt greeting cards. This title reaffirms that writerly gift in the best of ways as it delivers rhyming lines that describe simple pleasures and intangible treasures that define relationships and enrich a person’s life. Sometimes the gouache illustrations depict people in comfortable companionship; other spreads show a solitary person engaged in an activity alone. Text reading, “So I’ll give you this world / Like a lucky blue stone…. // The gift of alone… / And not-being-alone” is representative of the book as a whole. It never offers a narrative arc but instead presents images of racially diverse children and adults going about their days. Illustrating the aforementioned quatrain are a picture of Black-presenting adults transferring the stone from or to (it’s open to interpretation) a small Black child and, on the next double-page spread, first a different Black child painting in solitude and then a ring of racially diverse children playing. This reference to “a lucky blue stone” is echoed in closing spreads with reference to the Earth itself, lending the book a sense of cohesion and underscoring its gentle message of unity and gratitude for the simple things in life, such as the very ground on which we stand, together. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another gift of a book. (Picture book. All ages)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1416-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A wonderfully charming tale of family and sisters that anyone can bond with.

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SISTERS

Two sisters who are constantly at odds take a family road trip that covers more ground—both literally and figuratively—than they expect.

After begging her parents for a sister, Raina gets more than she bargained for once Amara is born. From the moment she was brought home, Amara hasn’t been quite the cuddly playmate that Raina had hoped. As the years pass, the girls bicker constantly and apparently couldn’t be more unalike: Raina spends her time indoors underneath her headphones, and Amara loves animals and the outdoors. The girls, their mother and their little brother all pack up to drive to a family reunion, and it seems like the trip’s just going to be more of the same, with the girls incessantly picking on each other all the way from San Francisco to Colorado. However, when the trip doesn’t go quite as planned—for a number of reasons—the girls manage to find some common ground. Told in then-and-now narratives that are easily discernable in the graphic format, Telgemeier’s tale is laugh-out-loud funny (especially the story about the snake incident) and quietly serious all at once. Her rounded, buoyant art coupled with a masterful capacity for facial expressions complements the writing perfectly. Fans of her previous books Smile (2010) and Drama (2012) shouldn’t miss this one; it’s a winner.

A wonderfully charming tale of family and sisters that anyone can bond with. (Graphic memoir. 7-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-54059-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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