STARS ABOVE US

Norman’s first picture book explores a child’s fear of the dark as a manifestation of, and metaphor for, acute separation anxiety. Amanda’s fear is handily ameliorated before her father’s military deployment. The family decorates her bedroom ceiling with cut-and-painted, glow-in-the-dark stars. Daddy shows Amanda the North Star—both in the night sky and in her bedroom—and says, “When I am away, you can look at it and think of me.” “On the last day before he went away,” Daddy surprises Amanda (but, one hopes, not her mom) with a puppy. Norman’s dialogue-rich narrative spans the deployment and includes Daddy’s phone call from a remote desert camp. The accomplished Lewis’s pictures disappoint, with depictions of Amanda and her parents lacking consistency. Even allowing for variations in light and a year’s changes, the child’s hair color, features and apparent age seem to waver from spread to spread. Despite the unfortunate visual shortcomings, this useful volume reassuringly examines the effect of military deployment on families. A flawed but welcome addition to the sparse cadre of trade titles on this topic. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-24724-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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A generic addition to a thoroughly overcrowded bandwagon.

I LOVE YOU NIGHT AND DAY

This new entry in the “I love you SO VERY MUCH” genre offers grandiose rhyme paired to images of a small blue bunny and a slightly larger purple bear.

Broadening the potential audience if nothing else, the two figures are both androgynous and cast in an ambiguous relationship. Whether sibs, parent and child (perhaps adoptive), bosom buddies or outright lovers, in Brown’s spacious, idyllic pastel paintings, they pose together in a variety of seasons and settings, sometimes holding paws, more often sharing smiles and glances. Whether soaring in a hot air balloon, climbing a mountain or snuggling together with a book in bed, the sentiment never varies—even during a temporary ruction caused by broken crockery. The verse, spread out to a line or a couplet per spread, is as oblique as the relationship: “I love you most, I love you best, / Much, much more than all the rest. // I love you tall, I love you high, / Way up in the sunny sky.” Unsurprisingly, it’s even unclear which of the two is delivering the declarations.

A generic addition to a thoroughly overcrowded bandwagon. (Picture book. 5-8, adult)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-222-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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