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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here.

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THE COUCH POTATO

Can a couch potato peel themself off their beloved, comfortable couch?

John and Oswald’s titular spud certainly finds it very hard to do so. Why should they leave their “comfy, cozy couch” when everything that’s needed is within reach? Their doodads and gadgets to amuse and entertain, their couch’s extendable gloved hands to grab food from the kitchen, and screens upon screens to watch their favorite TV shows (highlights: MadYam, Fries), play their favorite video games, and livestream their friends. Where’s the need to leave the living room? Then…“PEW-WWWWWWW”! The electricity goes out one day. Left without screens and gizmos, the couch potato decides to take dog Tater “for a walk…outside,” where the trees and birds and skies seem rich, “like a high-resolution 156-inch curved screen, but even more realistic.” The outdoor experience proves cathartic and freeing, away from those cords that bind, liberating enough to commit this couch potato to spending more time off the couch. Similar to The Bad Seed (2017), The Good Egg (2019), and The Cool Bean (2019) in small-scale scope and moral learning, this latest guidebook to life retains John’s attention to textual goodness, balancing good-humored laughs with a sincere conversational tone that immediately pulls readers in. Naturally, Oswald’s succinct artwork—loaded with genial spuds, metatextual nods, and cool aloofness—continues this loose series’ winsome spirit. No counterarguments here, couch potatoes. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65.9% of actual size.)

Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295453-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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