An inspiring and wistful message wrapped up in a subtle, thoughtful narrative and lively, beautiful art: simply superb.

MAYBE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

HOW ART TRANSFORMED A NEIGHBORHOOD

In a neighborhood full of gray, young Mira shares her colorful art (and heart) with the world beyond her window.

First Mira gives a painting of an apple to Mr. Henry, the shop owner. She then offers a songbird to Mr. Sax and a deep red heart to the local beat cop. Still, her art project hits its limit. “Her city was less gray—but not much.” Soon a mysterious artist approaches Mira, offering a boost. “What do you see?” Mira asks him. “Maybe…something beautiful,” he replies. Leading readers on an infectious ride, Campoy and Howell’s text bristles with dazzling energy. Words pop out of the page in bursts of oomph (“BAM! POW!”) as color begins to fill the city. The authors, moreover, mix in dynamic moments with quiet scenes, producing a tone both lively and contemplatively hopeful. The illustrations, however, are the main attraction. López, whose career as a muralist inspired this story, loads each double-page spread with curves, splashes of paint, and geometric shapes, changing page orientation for emphasis at times. As Mira’s neighbors join in on the fun, the city comes alive with unforgettable human spirit. The mysterious artist sums it all up: “The world is your canvas.”

An inspiring and wistful message wrapped up in a subtle, thoughtful narrative and lively, beautiful art: simply superb. (authors’ note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-35769-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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