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Black pride is strong in this homage.

Harlem Airlines flies a boy and his uncle back in time to a fanciful grand parade on Seventh Avenue, where they meet and greet a star-studded lineup of African-American luminaries.

After a breakfast of “the best fried chicken and waffles this side of heaven” (at the legendary Well’s Restaurant), the boy is on the lookout for Langston Hughes, his favorite poet. Marcus Garvey passes by, as does W.E.B. Du Bois. There’s a visit to the Africana Art Gallery, Madame C.J. Walker’s Beauty School and the Harlem Opera House, where they have a conversation with Paul Robeson. Florence Mills and Josephine Baker represent those who achieved fame overseas. At the Schomburg Library, they hear Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, who recites “My People.” A party at the Savoy with performances by Fletcher Henderson’s band, Satchmo and Coleman Hawkins is a festive finale. On the flight home, the boy reiterates his racial pride and determination to write. Ringgold has a sure hand as she delivers her message and even references her own Aunt Connie’s Dinner Party (1993). The acrylic paintings on textured canvas feature elongated figures that are boldly colored in all the primary hues. Her decision to depict her proud protagonist as light-skinned, red-haired and blue-eyed is an eloquent statement all by itself.

Black pride is strong in this homage. (Harlem Renaissance glossary, further reading) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-057911-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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