A deeply felt examination of grief.

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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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