A marvel of prose, illustration, and design that invites repeated meditation.



If you were a boy named Isamu…what would you learn about your world?

Beginning with the whimsical jacket design that’s echoed in the shapes, colors, and prose that follow, readers are encouraged to experience finding their own voices in quiet spaces. Isamu, a young boy with beige skin and black hair, feels overwhelmed in the crowded and noisy market—a patchwork of stalls, merchandise, and people. Instead he seeks out colorful paper lanterns, a still wood where leaves crunch, a field of grass, a rocky beach, and more. Using the second person, the narrator invites readers to imagine themselves as Isamu, asking his questions and immersing himself in the natural world using his senses. Whimsy is woven throughout, appearing even in a large gray stone with a face that is echoed on the dust jacket. Colorful lines of all forms dominate the design of the spreads—straight bamboo stalks, rounded stones that look like birds, a wavy outline in rock that frames the sea—all carefully rendered in bold colors balanced by plenty of white space. Yang depicts Isamu in proportion with his wonder at the world, by turns prominent and peripheral. The author’s note explains how Isamu Noguchi’s biracial background (his father was Japanese and his mother was a White American) led to ostracization in both Japan and the United States, prompting him to seek out safe, natural spaces that eventually inspired his artwork, based in stone and wood. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A marvel of prose, illustration, and design that invites repeated meditation. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20344-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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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Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.


A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own.

In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy’s text describes what “Black is” physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as “the braids in my best friend’s hair,” to the conceptual: “Black is soft-singing, ‘Hush now, don’t explain’ ”—a reference to the song “Don’t Explain” made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, and “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-631-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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