A warmly inclusive book for growing new readers.

THE GARDEN

From the Confetti Kids series

Diverse children work in a community garden.

In Hooks’ story, Lily, a brown-skinned girl with brown curls, says she misses her old suburban home’s garden, and her mother, whose appearance is similar, suggests that she help in the urban community garden near their new home. The ensuing story employs a controlled text and is broken up into short chapters that provide structure and will support feelings of accomplishment in emergent readers. Mr. Sam, who oversees the garden and appears Asian, welcomes her and encourages her to invite friends to help, too. Readers of previous books will recognize familiar names and faces: Henry, Mei, Pablo, and Padma, who are cued in the text or in Ng-Benitez’s appealing watercolor and digital illustrations as white, Asian, Latinx, and South Asian, respectively. Henry and Padma are initially reluctant, while Mei and Pablo are eager, but all agree to try. Mr. Sam shows them how to plant and care for seeds, and Padma is disappointed that it’ll take “months” for plants to grow. This makes Lily worry that her friends aren’t having fun, but, satisfyingly, they persist and are rewarded with literal fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. The visible enthusiasm of the tiny songbirds (underscored by their dialogue: little musical notes followed by exclamation marks) who watch the plants sprout adds sweet humor.

A warmly inclusive book for growing new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-565-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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