A warm and glowing modern myth.

A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR

Little Star has trouble resisting the Big Mooncake that Mama has hung in the sky in Lin’s (When the Sea Turned Silver, 2016, etc.) luminous departure from her usual block-print style.

After Little Star and her mama, both wearing jet-black pajamas adorned with bright yellow stars, bake a huge yellow mooncake, Mama reminds Little Star to leave it in the sky to cool. Of course Little Star tries, but she wakes in the night, unable to resist taking a tiny nibble. Mama surely won’t notice. Each subsequent night, Little Star steals another bite, and soon observant readers may realize what is happening: The Big Mooncake is waning from a full moon to a new moon. Lin’s storytelling is both clever and radiant. Painted in gouache against perfectly black pages, the characters’ pajamas have no edges, only the stars defining the separation between foreground and background. The mooncake gleams against the black as well, crumbs scattering like stars in the sky—a visual delight, suffusing the book with a feeling of otherworldliness that is offset by Little Star’s childlike authenticity and her loving relationship with Mama. An author’s note on the jacket flap indicates that while this story is not rooted in Chinese cosmology, it is Lin’s homage to the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, her “favorite Asian holiday.”

A warm and glowing modern myth. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-40448-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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