While the overall message is laudable, the book attempts to cover too much territory with too few details to sustain...

WHAT MAKES US UNIQUE?

OUR FIRST TALK ABOUT DIVERSITY

From the Just Enough series

The huge topic of human diversity is here given cursory treatment that may raise more questions than it answers.

Using the analogy of a rainbow, human differences including race, physical ability, personality type, culture, family structure, and occupation are portrayed as nothing to be afraid of and less significant than our basic human commonalities. The intended audience for this work is unclear. The text ranges from quite simplistic (“People have different eye colors. They have different hair colors. They have different skin colors”) to fairly complex (“Culture is a word we use to describe the shared attitudes, practices and beliefs of a certain group of people”). Readers may also not grasp that the oblique mention of lifestyle differences may be referring to socio-economic diversity. Some topics are unfortunately treated in a noninclusive way; the detailed description of different kinds of families ignores the very common multigenerational model, and sexual orientation is presented as binary, erasing bisexual and pansexual individuals. Cartoonlike illustrations show people of different skin tones, physical abilities, and ages wearing a variety of types of clothing, including Sikh turbans and Muslim hijab, and often interacting in positive ways.

While the overall message is laudable, the book attempts to cover too much territory with too few details to sustain interest, satisfy the natural curiosity that diversity arouses, or offer support to those who feel marginalized due to their differences. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0948-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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