A timely and heartening work.

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MIGRATIONS

OPEN HEARTS, OPEN BORDERS

This inspiring and soothing book is the fruition of an exhibit of the same title, featuring postcards sent by more than 50 children’s-book illustrators from around the world to express solidarity with today’s migrants.

Each postcard is a work of art; many are submitted by award-winning illustrators. Most feature birds in flight coupled with excerpts of poetry or words of encouragement: A flying ostrich does the impossible; a swallow flies across a field of gray and reveals spring behind her; six humorous bird busts accompany a message to “Fly high!”; an albatross “holds in its eye the storm / And … / The small green island of its home”—a message says that where we go becomes part of us. The brief, poetic messages and illustrations beam with encouragement. They collectively highlight the universality of the traveling experience, acknowledge loss, and find and seed hope in a better time to come. The book is organized around themes of “departures,” “long journeys,” “arrivals,” and “hope for the future.” A preface by Shaun Tan highlights the power and responsibility of spreading hope through works that talk to the imagination. This small but powerful book definitely succeeds in this aim and will appeal to readers from migrant and host communities alike, young and old.

A timely and heartening work. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0961-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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