YOU ARE THE LOVELIEST

A symbiotic, child-affirming union of poignant verse and charming illustrations: lovely, indeed.

A beloved collection of 23 poems from the Netherlands receives an English translation.

The poems, unpunctuated and uncapitalized except for the word I, convey the perspective of an often solitary light-skinned, blond-haired child. They tend their large contingent of toys, stuffies, and dolls, indoors and out, while astutely observing nature, their family, and the world around them. Törnqvist’s sensitive illustrations create a world around the child, visually celebrating their determined agency. Ineffability is a recurrent theme, as in “Invisible”: “sighs are invisible / just like the wind / night is invisible / when daytime begins / …but what I make up / is all visible / when I close my eyes.” In “Real” the child squeezes their sleeping mom’s ear “to tell her how I feel / wake up, mom/ I want a mom who’s real.” Törnqvist extends this beautifully telegraphed child’s-eye experience of parental unavailability in the bedroom tableau: The many draped and scattered toys tangle with mom’s castoff bra and clothing, suggesting both maternal exhaustion and a long morning of solitary play. “Freesia” is both ode and antidote to a baby’s bouts of stinkiness: “in a vase beside your bed / change it every hour / even if your diaper’s full / you’ll smell like a flower.” The child hoists the flower, leading a parade of marching toys, everyone’s noses securely pinched. Other poems investigate animal tracks, grandparents, stars, clouds, dreams, new shoes, and more. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A symbiotic, child-affirming union of poignant verse and charming illustrations: lovely, indeed. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64614-128-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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