A well-crafted tale about healthy adaptation to new environs merges with superb artwork.

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THE SNOW LION

When young Caro moves to a new home with her mum, she derives comfort and strength from a mysterious, large, white lion.

The cover art and endpapers immediately draw readers into a world where a lion as enormous and gentle as the famous red dog Clifford will play a starring role. The story begins, however, with a dark, nighttime double-page spread showing a car heading up a hill toward Caro’s new house. Next, Caro explores her new home’s interior, as art verifies text: “The walls were white, the ceilings were white, and even the doors were white.” When Caro wishes for a playmate, the Snow Lion appears, and for a full week the two play and play. More than once, the wise Snow Lion encourages Caro to play with other children, and she finally connects, at the playground, with a welcoming boy named Bobby. Eventually, Caro’s mother engages Bobby and other young friends in a house-painting party. Will the colors eliminate the Snow Lion? The mixed-media artwork is a splendid complement, using just enough detail and geometric patterns against large planes of muted colors, both indoors and out. The human figures have solid, toddlerlike appearances, while the Snow Lion is appropriately well-camouflaged against the house’s white walls. Caro has pale skin and curly, auburn hair; Bobby is a boy of color with brown skin and black hair.

A well-crafted tale about healthy adaptation to new environs merges with superb artwork. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68263-048-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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