Not much beyond a gimmick, and one that’s suitable only for home libraries.

TWINS

Die-cut animal shapes invite young artists to fill in traced outlines and create stories around them in this Indian import.

As a drawing game, at least, this is definitely on the minimalist side. Hamir, a Gujarati artist associated with the Indigenous Pithora style, contributes a few large, generic animal shapes—a monkey, a bird, two identical whales, a camel, and a cat—cut into sheets that are interleaved among the pages. These can be flipped right and left so that facing titular “twins” can be traced onto pages that are otherwise largely blank except for scattered dots, a few small geometric shapes, lightly traced figures, and, in one spread, a set of empty dialogue balloons, all added by Shah. Wolf supplies five instructional story prompts in small type that progress from a simple “What happens next?” to more developed, and promising, scenarios (“Oops! He’s eaten his twin’s meal! Draw what happens next”). The book concludes with a general invitation to conjure a story from scratch on a totally blank final page. Young yarn-spinners may enjoy the exercises, but they aren’t going to come away with any sense of Pithora motifs or the traditional stories they are typically created to tell.

Not much beyond a gimmick, and one that’s suitable only for home libraries. (Coloring book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-93-83145-71-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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

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