A journey for identity and belonging that borders on culturally harmful.




A father recounts true events surrounding the difficult birth of his son, Lakota, an experience that challenges him to be triple brave.

Moments after being born, doctors rush Lakota away, requiring the narrator to leave his wife, who suffers complications from prolonged labor, and follow. When Lakota stabilizes, the father returns to her side. Just as the new parents feel “the worst [has] passed,” Hurricane Harvey forces their evacuation. The remaining story revolves around the legacy a father hopes to impart. What starts as a simple story centered on themes of bravery, resilience, and family and community bonds becomes mired in several ways. With its menulike selection of Native Nations, gatherings, artifacts, events, ceremonies, heroes, and metaphors, the tale reads more Pan-Indian than urban-Native. Additionally, generic phrases such as “Native American ancestry,” “gift of my culture,” and “folktales and legends” call attention to themselves with their outsider perspective and lack of specificity. However, the biggest issue results from a misguided attempt to equate deliberately systematic, historical, “forced” removals of Native Nations with a natural disaster evacuation, an event itself oddly described as “a trip.” A watercolor illustration depicting the Trail of Tears reinforces this inappropriate comparison. Other images include hackneyed motifs—horses, eagles, wind, and feathers. Rather than celebrating genuine heritage, this tale uses self-identification/family stories to claim Native American descent, presents Pan-Indian tropes as a singular Native identity, and attacks sovereignty by suggesting a DNA test legitimizes connection.

A journey for identity and belonging that borders on culturally harmful. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-57687-914-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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From the Égalité series

A timely look at self-expression.

Kindergarten-age Ben paints his fingernails because he loves their colorful appeal. Unfortunately, not everyone does. While walking to school one morning, Ben is harassed by two other boys: “Painting your nails is for girls. You’re a girl! You’re a girl!” Ben initially internalizes the negative feelings but eventually tells his parents. Although Ben’s father shows solidarity by painting his nails as well, this does not stop the bullying. Ben sadly kowtows to gender conformity and paints his nails only on the weekend, although his father continues to pick him up after school with painted nails. On Ben’s birthday, his entire class surprises him with painted nails, and at recess, they do it again. End of story! Educators and caregivers should prepare themselves for the barrage of logical questions that are sure to follow: Why didn’t Ben’s parents talk to his teacher about the bullying? What happened the next day? Did the bullies learn anything? Books about gender nonconformity are needed, as are titles that celebrate general messages of acceptance, but this story is too superficial and the ending too slapdash to be worth the attention. Gusti’s illustrations, which echo the stylings of Jules Pfeiffer, do little to enhance the text. Most characters appear white, while darker-skinned characters are reduced to background filler only. The book is also available in Spanish.

Skip it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-59-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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