A look at fear from a privileged perspective.

COME WITH ME

How can one person make a difference?

A girl, frightened by what she sees on the news, asks her father, a white man, what to do to make the world a better place. Appealing watercolor-and-ink illustrations portray their resulting walk to the subway as they say hello to passers-by and, in doing so, win “a tiny battle over fear for themselves and for the people of the world.” Next, the girl asks her mother, a brown-skinned woman, and together, the two shop for dinner, because “one person doesn’t represent a family or a race or the people of a land.” Finally, the biracial girl asks to walk her dog. Her parents allow her to do this alone, their message to the world that they don’t want to “live in fear.” The girl and her dog walk with a neighbor boy (who is black), because “two people together are stronger than one.” The story concludes with the idea that to improve the world, one need only carry on and be kind, and the result feels superficial and treacly; the characters essentially receive praise for recognizing that human connections are important, and the girl, eager to make some sort of a difference in the world, never finds out about any further options or ideas. World events may be difficult for both adults and children to process or comprehend, but this well-intentioned selection fails to offer much beyond self-congratulation.

A look at fear from a privileged perspective. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3905-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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