PEA POD LULLABY

While some adults may welcome the chance to discuss the issues raised in the illustrations, many may find the text, however...

A family takes an ocean journey from a bleak, war-torn location to a dock by a small house where a man and dog appear to welcome them.

The action begins immediately in this Australian import, as a woman, baby, young child (all have tan complexions), and brown dog run pell-mell down a slope tangled with barbed wire on the title page. Fiery red and yellow splashes behind them imply violence without offering details. Climbing into a boat with a patched sail, they set out. They see only the sea and sky until (improbably) they meet a polar bear perched on a floating refrigerator. After helping the polar bear to get home, the family sails on. King’s lovely ink-and-watercolor illustrations are simple but evocative. Blues and grays predominate, making the occasional appearance of bright green, yellow, and red stand out. Multiple unframed horizontal panels create a sense of movement, while double-page spreads allow readers a closer look at specific moments in the journey. Millard’s brief text, meanwhile, is decidedly abstract. Paired phrases contrast “I” and “you,” and each ends with an exhortation: “I am the small green pea / you are the tender pod / hold me.” Unfortunately, confusion about who is speaking to whom often makes it hard to understand who is being asked to “quench me” or “shelter me,” and some requests (“dance me”) may truly perplex young listeners.

While some adults may welcome the chance to discuss the issues raised in the illustrations, many may find the text, however lyrical, a barrier to comprehension. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0197-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

CLAYMATES

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

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 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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