SISTERS FIRST

A paean to sisterhood by the former first daughters.

Although the co-authors are twins, their rhyming, first-person text is in the voice of a girl praying for a baby sister: “Please make her kind, with an enormous heart, / clever too, and very smart.” Her wishes are prompted by her observations of other sisters, whom the accompanying cartoon art depicts as diverse pairs of girls, including two brown-skinned children with wavy brown hair and a white-appearing girl holding the hand of a small child who appears black, with dark skin and afro-puffs. The narrator is blonde with light skin, and her sister is born with a similar complexion but reddish-brown hair. The big sister is chagrined to realize that having a baby sister isn’t all she’d expected, but frustration abates when she reflects on her earlier prayer and thinks, “If kindness was what I was asking of you, / I needed to be kind and patient, too.” As the baby grows, the sisters achieve the loving, close bond the narrator prayed for. While the core sentiment might well move readers, the bland art stops short of expanding or enriching the text, and the writing both falters in cadence and descends into cliché, as in lines reading “And with time…we found a rhythm, your hand locked in mine. / We sang duets and danced in rain and sunshine.”

Not a first pick. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53478-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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