This lovely reimagining of an old tale affirms the browning of American’s contemporary young readership

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

A brown-skinned Beauty—what a refreshing change!

Cornrows, braids and beads, Afro puffs and twists. No, it’s not an African-American hair magazine; these are some of the hairstyles that Beauty and her sisters sport in Cummings and Lee’s ethnically rich retelling of an old, typically Caucasian favorite. The Beast’s family crest, an intricate figure on the title page that strongly resembles a West African Adinkra symbol, sets the stage for this picture book’s all-black cast of characters. Though Lee recounts the familiar French version in the text, beginning with the cover image, the illustrations affirm the beauty of this lithe girl of African descent and even of her mean-spirited sisters. Cummings’ illustrations convey so much detail that even the pre-transformation Beast seems beautiful…in his own way. Because of these culturally specific visual dynamics, the handsome visage of Beast-turned-prince comes as no surprise. Readers who attend to detail will delight in the Beast’s fierce animal topiaries and in a plethora of beastly faces found in unlikely places such as the backs of chairs, masks hanging on the walls and the cedar chest in Beauty’s room.

This lovely reimagining of an old tale affirms the browning of American’s contemporary young readership . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-688-14819-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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