This exploration of tears is reassuring and nonjudgmental.

WHY DO WE CRY?

A boy asks his mother a simple question and receives a not-so-simple answer.

Mario’s mother lists some of the many reasons people cry in sensitively nuanced metaphors layered with emotional truths. Each spread prints one word or phrase in a slightly larger font than the rest, subtly but effectively drawing readers’ attention to a particular feeling. Among the obvious are “sadness,” “anger,” and “happy.” The more nuanced concepts include “grow,” “lock,” and “wall,” which the surrounding text and illustrations help convey. All the while, readers see a young girl, perhaps the mother when she was young, experiencing these emotions. Encapsulating it all, Mario’s mother finally says, “But more than anything, sweetheart, we cry because we feel like crying.” In the backmatter, Pintadera further answers other, scientifically based questions about tears, such as “What are tears made of?” and “Why are tears good for us?” While the scientific perspective at first seems out of place in such an emotional book, it helps remove some of the stigma surrounding the act of crying. The text assures readers that tears are a natural biological function with several purposes: “Who cries?…crying is universal, just like laughter.” Additional discussion activities prompt readers to make personal connections. This book, originally published in Spain, features a pale-skinned, black-haired parent and child. The textured images generate appropriate moods, providing powerful symbolic visuals for the addressed emotions. Many could hang in an art gallery as part of a surrealist collection.

This exploration of tears is reassuring and nonjudgmental. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0477-4

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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