A comforting cup of tenderness for children when aging and memory loss issues begin to brew

FINDING GRANDMA'S MEMORIES

As Grandma ages, teatime changes in the eyes of a loving grandchild.

“Ever since I was really little, I have loved having tea with my grandma.” A young girl remembers the days of holding her stuffed bear as she reaches out to hug her gray-haired maternal grandmother. She explains the teatime ritual, which begins by selecting a teacup from a beautiful collection, as flowers and fruit and cupcakes wait on the table. With bright illustrations brimming with geometric patterns, the pages exude comfort and familiarity. The unnamed narrator’s mother is white with blonde hair, and her father has brown skin and black hair, making the biracial girl a sweet blending of the two. As the narrator grows in age and wisdom, she notices that Grandma is getting confused—she leaves the water running and puts her eyeglasses in the refrigerator. Most alarmingly, she calls her granddaughter by the wrong name. But with optimism and honesty, the girl finds ways to help her grandmother remember. While the story is constructive in tone, readers will also understand that accepting the reality of memory loss is equally important. The gentle theme of spending care-filled time with aging loved ones echoes another title by Pak, My Grandpa’s Chair (2017). As the back cover tagline reads, “When someone you love can’t remember things, maybe you can remember for them.”

A comforting cup of tenderness for children when aging and memory loss issues begin to brew . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-58107-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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