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

A BOY NAMED ISAMU

A STORY OF ISAMU NOGUCHI

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Certain to become a favorite bedtime book.

EVERYBODY IN THE RED BRICK BUILDING

A crying baby sets off a chain reaction of responses from the neighbors she wakes in the red brick building.

Baby Izzie wakes up in the night with a “WaaaAAH!” Her wail wakes not only those in her apartment, but also neighbor Rayhan, who inadvertently wakes his parrot, who announces: “RraaK! WAKE UP!” The parrot’s squawks and baby’s cries wake more and more neighbors, who rouse others in the building until everyone is awake and contributing to the late-night hullabaloo. Finally, Pepper the cat manages to set off a car alarm that yells “WEE YOOO WEEEE YOOOOO!!!!” into the night. Eventually, all the neighbors—a testament to urban diversity—settle down from the excitement and return to bed. Each is lulled by soft, gentle sounds that begin with the “shhh shhh” of a street sweeper, the “plonk plonk” of falling acorns, and the “ting ting” of a wind chime. The onomatopoeia in this cumulative tale is appropriate for the actions described and is so much fun to read. Mora’s beautiful, vivid geometric illustrations incorporate the onomatopoeia in the first half of the story. They sprawl across spreads and invite loud reading but are absent by the time the story begins to make its turn back to the starting point. That “shhh shhh” sound from the street sweeper brings calm and quiet to the activity in the red brick building—and, as if by magic, readers as well. Sotto voce: very well done! (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Certain to become a favorite bedtime book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-286576-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more