An ode to solitude and nature, this picture book provides comforting certitude in current times of uncertainty.

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I FOUND HOPE IN A CHERRY TREE

A child and a cat experience solace, joy, and wonder while exploring the natural world.

Starting inside a country house and then venturing out into a snowy landscape, a child with straight, black hair and pale skin and a playful cat observe and reflect upon the simple, ever evolving pleasures of the natural world. Eyes can behold mischievous shadows created by the sun, ears can hear the stories carried in the wind, tongues can taste soft, sweet clouds, and best of all, there’s the hopeful promise of spring in the buds on the shivering cherry-tree branches. Each of the four parts of the poetic, first-person narrative is a bite-sized reminder that even scary or dismal things, like wind that howls like wolves or icy, sharp snowflakes, contain hope and joy. Visual and textual motifs are woven throughout, building to the reassuring and gratifying conclusion featuring the child and cat amid a shower of cherry blossoms. There’s comfort in steady, sure things, like the constant presence of the sun and the cyclical nature of the seasons. Textured canvases overlaid with soft pastels and cool earth tones create a dreamy, tranquil atmosphere, mirroring the quiet wonder of the text. Compositions are grounded by expertly placed shapes and lines, moving the eye through the scene in a peaceful, steady manner. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.9-by-21.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15.4% of actual size.)

An ode to solitude and nature, this picture book provides comforting certitude in current times of uncertainty. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-220-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Positively refreshing.

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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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