A deeply felt examination of grief.

READ REVIEW

MOM'S SWEATER

A girl struggles to understand her grief in this British import and picture-book debut for artist Perkin.

After a visit to her mother in the hospital comes a life-changing call the next morning: “She’s gone.” There’s a funeral and many condolences. The girl finds herself unable to concentrate and feels detached from the world, her father telling her that it is grief she is experiencing. Perkin writes matter-of-factly about struggling with the loss of a parent. There’s no condescension to child readers; she respects their ability to understand, telling the story with a refreshing candor from the girl’s point of view: “Everyone would say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ But it wasn’t their fault,” the girl muses. Finding one of her mother’s sweaters, which retains her mother’s scent, the girl wears it often. Her sensitive father helps her comprehend the enormity of her feelings with the use of an apt and poignant simile, explaining that her grief is like her mother’s sweater: It stays the same, but she will “eventually grow into it.” There is a fitting plaintiveness to Perkin’s stylized figures—she draws eyes simply with everyone appearing as if they are looking down—but smiles grow as times passes and the girl and her father come to understand their loss. The two are white; the family’s grieving friends include people of color and multiracial families.

A deeply felt examination of grief. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5544-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Positively refreshing.

HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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