A tender ode to a family’s ever changing (and never-ending) love.

I'LL MEET YOU IN YOUR DREAMS

In lyrical rhyme, a parent promises to love their child across the years of their special bond.

An adult with warm brown skin and long brown hair and a red dress floats above a sleeping town, cradling a baby. Meanwhile, an adult with a somewhat deeper-brown complexion and straw fedora shelters a different child from a downpour. A unified narration offers a series of tender, metaphor-driven vignettes spanning the little ones’ lifetimes. The scenes follow a gentle formula, depicting a stage in the kids’ lives and the support the adults vow to provide (“you’ll be a knight and I’ll be a horse. / We’ll race along a rainbow’s course / to castles in the sky”) then seamlessly shifting into a new iteration of their connection (“until it’s time to fly. / Then…”). As the story progresses, each child’s autonomy grows; in turn, each adult lovingly acknowledges the change their relationships will take. Combining lyrical words with vibrant paintings and occasionally rotating spreads, Young and López weave a rich tapestry that honors the process of children’s self-determination over time. Most notable about this warmhearted tale is how it can be applied to any special adult in a child’s life, including caregivers, extended family, and chosen family. Because each parent-child duo is illustrated as a distinct unit, this book is also a beautiful representation of single parents. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16% of actual size.)

A tender ode to a family’s ever changing (and never-ending) love. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45328-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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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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