A heartfelt if inadequate tool to provoke conversations about prejudice and bullying.

READ REVIEW

ON THE PLAYGROUND

OUR FIRST TALK ABOUT PREJUDICE

From the World Around Us series

Roberts addresses prejudice, bullying, and allied behavior with young children.

Like the rest of the World Around Us series, this title aims to help children confront difficult truths about our world and to empower them to create change. The text begins with an unspecified bullying incident, which it then reframes as “harassment,” saying “when someone is harassed because they are different, it’s often due to prejudice held by the person who is being mean.” While these terms are defined, biases “based on that person’s different race, religion, sex, age or ability” are presented as existing in an equitable vacuum, without attention to the impacts of systemic imbalances of power and marginalization. The narrative does not follow anti-racism best practices by acknowledging that biases are the stories we all tell ourselves about other people before we know them and also advocating that everyone work against biases by acknowledging privilege and resisting internalized oppression. While the text does address openness to learning about others, its failure to situate harassment/bullying and allied behavior within the realities of social and political inequities undermines its efficacy. Throughout, illustrations and photos of diverse people depict scenarios of bullying and allied behavior, and Q-and-A text models conversations between adults and children about prejudice.

A heartfelt if inadequate tool to provoke conversations about prejudice and bullying. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2091-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Grit and imagination combine to turn “No” into a definite “Yes.”

A THOUSAND NO'S

Corchin and Doughtery combine talents in this metaphorical tale of creativity, resilience, and growth mindset.

This book’s noseless, bristly-ponytailed protagonist has a great idea (never named but represented visually as a glowing egg), but like many ideas, it runs into hiccups along the way to fruition, including daunting opposition. What seemed like a simple and clever idea at first quickly meets many, many “No”s. The naysayers and critiques are heavy and painful at first and quickly become overwhelming until “No”s in a dizzying variety of typefaces litter the page. But when she decides to solicit feedback, at first reluctantly, she becomes curious about her idea and how the “No”s might help it along, turning 1,000 “No”s into one big, brilliant “Yes.” The message is straightforward without being heavy-handed: Even though feedback can be difficult to hear, it ultimately leads to positive results. The black-and-white line-drawn illustrations have a Tim Burton vibe at the start, but they grow more colorful as the protagonist’s attitude changes and “No”s pour in, expanding the allegory visually. The final, humongous, multicolored “YES” is made up of all the myriad “No”s. Characters are uniformly depicted with paper-white skin, but hairstyle hints at racial diversity, and one character uses a wheelchair. This will surely find a home alongside similar favorites from the likes of Peter H. Reynolds and Kathryn Otoshi. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.3-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

Grit and imagination combine to turn “No” into a definite “Yes.” (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1919-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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