Cheery and lighthearted—and a lot less inclusive than it thinks it is.

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When her dad gets too busy for bedtime, Shailey gets busy replacing him.

Shailey loves bedtime, basking in its rituals of sliding into her PJ’s, brushing her teeth, and combing her bookshelf for the perfect story. But then her dad gets a new job, and suddenly he is either too busy or too tired to perform his bedtime duties adequately, leading Shailey to fire him and post an announcement for his replacement. Shortly before bedtime, the interview process commences. Illustrations depict the casts of popular stories: the Three Little Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the Big Bad Wolf, etc. The storybook characters, mostly white, animal, or edible, create quite the ruckus, causing Shailey to tweak the announcement again and again. Finally she finds a promising job seeker. With his familiar looks, just-right voice, and strawberries-and–chocolate chip cookies smell, Dad has all the prerequisites for the job, provided he keeps work off-limits during bedtime! The HR jargon the book depends on may sail over young readers’ heads, but the book’s saucy tone has the potential to delight a broad audience. But even though the book features a black protagonist and her father and a few of the storybook characters are depicted as characters of color, the latter all come from the Western European canon—a telling detail that undermines the fun.

Cheery and lighthearted—and a lot less inclusive than it thinks it is. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68446-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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