An incredible book to share with every member of your ‘ohana.

‘OHANA MEANS FAMILY

Discover the importance of kalo in Hawaiian culture.

Opening below a single bowl of purple poi, the text begins, “This is the poi for our ‘ohana’s lū‘au.” Using a cumulative pattern, it expands on where poi comes from to create a broader picture of the Hawaii countryside with a pair of presumably Native Hawaiian children as focal characters. They watch as the kalo, or taro, is pounded into poi, then, as the cumulative rhyme moves backward, they help in the taro patches of mud and clear water where the plants grow. A close-up of the taro patch zooms out to reveal more people working in many patches and the river that feeds the land that has been passed down from generation to generation. Each new addition to the cumulative text highlights an essential element of Hawaiian values, such as the land, elders, family, and food. In this read-aloud, Loomis writes a beautiful homage to kalo, a cornerstone of the culture and livelihood of the Hawaiian people. The poetic text combines with Pak’s breathtaking illustrations to depict kalo’s embodiment of the strong connection between land, water, air, sun, and the people. With his layered, textured paintings, Pak creates both beautiful pictures of the kalo and stunning panoramas of the community. A note on kalo and poi, an author’s note, and a glossary are provided to explain the importance of the elements of this story.

An incredible book to share with every member of your ‘ohana. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4326-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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