This depiction of role reversal regarding who holds responsibility for keeping the home calm and safe unfortunately offers...

MY QUIET SHIP

A child uses fantasy to cope with the angry shouting coming from adults in the home.

Quinn feels sick, achy, and scared when the yelling starts. In response, Quinn pretends to blast off into outer space as the commander of the Quiet Ship. There, the rumbling of the engines is so loud that nothing else can be heard. Quinn explores and sometimes even meets other creatures who “hug us and speak in nice voices” while managing the overwhelming feelings through dissociation. Jagged lines and dark colors show the intensity of the conflict and the discomfort it provokes in Quinn. Eventually, a night comes when the arguing is so loud that the child is unable to access the Quiet Ship. Instead, Quinn makes the decision to confront the adults, yelling at them to stop. The adults appear shocked when they are confronted and respond gently. In Quinn’s context, speaking up in this way is an empowering choice. However, for many children, this would not be the case, and such an action may not even be safe. While well-intentioned, this lack of context around issues such as domestic violence limits the title’s overall utility. Quinn and their caregivers all have light skin and straight, black hair.

This depiction of role reversal regarding who holds responsibility for keeping the home calm and safe unfortunately offers more confusion than comfort. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6713-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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