This book makes a memorable experience.

LISTEN

Readers are encouraged to take a moment to listen to every sound around them.

Sometimes the “big, wild world” is full of noise. But “what if you stop, close your eyes, and LISTEN? Can you hear each sound?” A dog, a crow; a teakettle, a “hello.” New words in school, the sounds of feelings; the rain, the wind, the quiet? While a narrator addresses readers, asking them to listen past the noise, the illustrations show a brown-skinned kid with two Afro puffs starting the day on a busy street, walking to school with dad, who presents White, and spending time with friends. The pictures conclude with bedtime scenes with a mother figure, who is Black, and broad views of the neighborhood at night. Through sensory engagement, the narrative offers a fresh way to engage with the world, showing that even when the surroundings seem overwhelming, one has the power of attention—useful for learning, calm, empathy, and more. The combination of city scenes and machines, human families and groups, nature and pets creates a vision of harmony in which all creatures play a part. The blue color scheme accented with red parallels the text’s soothing tone while colored and styled font accents support the idea of listening and distinguishing between sounds and words. Endmatter defines different modes of hearing and responding to sounds. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This book makes a memorable experience. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6189-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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