PECAN PIE BABY

A feisty big-sister-to-be narrates her ambivalence about her mama’s impending childbirth. The baby fixations of classmates, aunties and Grandma reinforce Gia’s sense that she’s got everything to lose when this winter baby comes—Mama’s gentle remonstrances notwithstanding. Woodson infuses Gia’s primal child-voice with an authorial lyricism that permits some lovely, lucid introspection. During a “baby-this and baby-that” Thanksgiving dinner, an outburst (“I’m so sick of that DING-DANG BABY!”) gets Gia banished to her room. “Upstairs, I got that teary, choky feeling. And even though there were a whole lot of people in my house, I felt real, real, / real alone.” Blackall’s apt watercolor-and-ink pictures capture the grounded serenity of a multiracial family (and community) with its priorities on straight. Beloved Gia’s got corn rows and a sweet gap between her front teeth. The fact that a dad or other mom doesn’t figure in renders her conflict more poignant. Cleverly, the story arc spans autumn’s slide into winter—a welcome alternative to all those ding-dang spring-baby plots. Fresh and wise. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-23987-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Gorgeous, shimmering, heartfelt.

I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS

Anticipation, pregnancy, and the birth of a baby are celebrated in this story from Spillett-Sumner (Inniniwak) and Caldecott medalist Goade (Tlingit).

When a baby chooses its mother, special gatherings of family and community are held to prepare for the child’s arrival. Sacred items are collected and placed in a medicine bundle to be given to the baby at birth. These items will keep the growing child’s connection to their identity strong. Spillett-Sumner’s lyrical text begins as an Indigenous mother plans the journey with her unborn child. “Before I held you in my arms, I sang you down from the stars.” When she finds a white eagle plume, it becomes “the first gift in a bundle that will be yours.” The young mother finds more items for her child’s bundle: cedar, sage, a “star blanket,” and a special river stone “so that you always remember that you belong to this place.” The baby arrives in the spring, “with the waters that come when the ice breaks and the rivers flow again.” Goade uses a white “swoosh” of stars throughout the illustrations to intertwine traditional origin stories with a family’s experience of “love and joy” upon the arrival of the new baby, in scenes that pulse with both emotions. Author and illustrator each contribute a note describing how they drew upon their respective cultural traditions to inform their work, which will open the book up to a wide range of readers.

Gorgeous, shimmering, heartfelt. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49316-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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