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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Good intentions and appealing artwork can’t overcome the vague descriptions and generic flavor of this narrative.

IN LUCIA'S NEIGHBORHOOD

This Canadian import, adapted from an animated film, is an earnest effort to paint a positive picture of an urban neighborhood. Unfortunately, it fails to bring the narrator and her surroundings to life.

Beginning with a reference to Jane Jacobs, a mid-20th-century journalist, author and activist who focused on urban planning, the text is explicitly purposive. Lucia, the narrator, uses simple declarative sentences to describe her community and review a typical day’s activities. In the morning, “[m]y neighborhood is pretty busy”; at noon, the letter carrier comes by, and school kids like Lucia come home for lunch (“Grandmother made my favorite soup!”). There’s the excitement of a local parade in the afternoon, and at the end of the day “things quiet down.” In meticulous, ebullient detail, Lucia faithfully describes everyday events and alludes to various friends and neighbors. The neighborhood is somewhat multicultural; apparently many residents (and possibly Lucia herself) are of Portuguese descent. The flat, digitally created illustrations have an appealing folk-art feel and offer more interesting detail than the bland text. Lucia’s life and location may be much more compelling in Montrose Avenue, the animated short in which she made her first appearance. Most readers, however, will find little reason to linger in her neighborhood.

Good intentions and appealing artwork can’t overcome the vague descriptions and generic flavor of this narrative. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-420-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more