Preaches to the choir.

A picture-book introduction to the police.

A preface by the author/illustrator’s son Mark R. Levin, a lawyer and Fox News personality, tells readers, “My father…understands that in all walks of life, and in every profession, man’s imperfections present themselves.” But, distressed by “news reports painting police officers…in an extremely negative light,” he was stirred to create this book so that young readers might “learn to respect law and order.” After that beginning, straightforward text combines with simple, childlike illustrations to introduce various types of police officers and what they do, including traffic police, dog handlers, and state troopers. Unsurprisingly, this is an unnuanced, positive portrayal. “When a fierce hurricane hits, the police remain steadfast. Amid the rising floodwaters, they search for missing people and stranded pets.” The book does not fall into the common trap of adducing the criminality of those arrested but not yet tried—indeed, there’s just one depiction of an arrest, in the beam of light cast by a police helicopter as the text reads that its job is to “make sure all is safe in the surrounding neighborhood.” It is deeply unfortunate, however, in a book that is attempting to rehabilitate the police with young audiences, that the vast preponderance of officers depicted appear to be white (as are those they interact with). Nowhere in the book’s determined cheerleading is there room to respect the experiences of those who have lost family members and friends to the police and who themselves feel targeted.

Preaches to the choir. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2950-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018


Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014


Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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