An astute tale of emotions, empathy, and redemption.

WAY PAST JEALOUS

From the Great Big Feelings series

When Yaz draws the best picture she’s ever drawn in her life, she’s excited—until she realizes that everyone in her class is paying attention to her friend Debby’s drawing and not hers.

Things get even worse when Yaz’s teacher, Miss Pimmy, hangs Debby’s picture of a dog on the Stars of the Week board but doesn’t notice Yaz’s drawing at all. Overcome by jealousy, Yaz starts acting unkindly toward both her friends and herself. When Debby saves her a seat at lunch, Yaz ignores her and sits elsewhere. When their friends talk about how much like Debby’s dogs those in their drawings look, Yaz spills her drink on their pictures. Worst of all, Yaz leaves lunch early so she can remove Debby’s picture from the Stars of the Week board, which breaks Debby’s heart. None of these actions makes Yaz feel better—if anything, they make her feel worse—but she isn’t sure how to fix the mess she’s made. Eventually, Yaz realizes that she doesn’t really care about being on the Stars of the Week board: What she cares about is Debby. But how will she fix the mistakes she made and get her friendship back? This frank portrait of childhood jealousy is both a compelling story and a perfect teaching tool. The protagonist’s journey is authentic and accessible, making it a great way to start a conversation about big feelings. While the text makes no mention of race, the brightly colored illustrations render the cast diverse: Yaz has brown skin and black hair, and Debby appears to be Black. Companion title Way Past Sad looks at the grief experienced by two best friends about to be separated by a move.

An astute tale of emotions, empathy, and redemption. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8678-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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