A perfect choice to spread hope and fight stereotypes at the same time

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SALAM ALAIKUM

A MESSAGE OF PEACE

The lyrics of international music sensation Harris J’s popular song are paired with sunny illustrations to offer a youthful vision of world peace and love in this heartfelt picture book.

Muslims often explain that their greeting of “Assalaam alaikum” means “peace,” but rarely is the idea conveyed so clearly as it is through words and pictures in this new picture book. Harris J’s catchy lyrics (“I just want to spread love and peace / and all of my happiness / to everyone that I meet”) may not be the most original poetic writing, but they are a breath of fresh air sure to bring a smile to readers young and old while introducing the Muslim greeting as “A Message of Peace,” as the title tagline has it. Faces of many races and creeds transform from troubled to ecstatic as strangers perform random acts of kindness and pay forward the love they receive. Jenkins’ illustrations use splashes of yellow and gold to visually highlight the good deeds being passed from person to person, so that a dark and dreary day becomes bright through kindness and love. Fans of Harris J will be thrilled and will likely sing the verses happily as they read. Readers new to Harris J will come away with a lasting impression of this young Muslim’s commitment to spreading world peace and love.

A perfect choice to spread hope and fight stereotypes at the same time . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8938-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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The title says it all: Black boys are “every good thing.”

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I AM EVERY GOOD THING

A much-needed book for Black children when society demonstrates otherwise.

The Kirkus Prize–, Coretta Scott King Honor–, Newbery Honor–, and Caldecott Honor–winning team behind Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (2017) return for another celebration of Black excellence. In a text brimming with imagination and Black-boy joy, Barnes lays the foundation for young Black readers to go forth into the world filled with confidence and self-assurance: “I am brave. I am hope. / I am my ancestors’ wildest dream. / I am worthy of success, / of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness.” Simultaneously, he opens a window for non-Black readers to see Black boys’ humanity. They have dreams, feel pain, are polite and respectful—the list of qualities goes on. Barnes also decides to address what is waiting for them as they experience the world. “I am not what they might call me.” With this forceful statement, he provides a tool for building Black resilience, reassuring young Black readers that they are not those names. James supplies his customarily painterly art, his brushy oils painting Black boys of every shade of brown playing, celebrating, achieving, aspiring, and loving. Through every stroke readers will see that Black boys are “worthy / to be loved.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 35% of actual size.)

The title says it all: Black boys are “every good thing.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51877-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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