A quietly joyful invitation to audiences of any age to stop taking the wonders and pleasures around them for granted.




From the Growing Hearts series

What will a child put in her fine, new, porcelain box? “Things that are beautiful and colorful and bright.”

“Things that bring me joy,” she continues, and then enumerates: jumping in puddles, blowing bubbles with baby sister Lili, the giggles of friends, lazy Sundays with her family, paper boats, and more. Also, peace and quiet: “I float and listen. My breath goes in and out, blowing like the wind.” Between the sparkly star shining through a big, shaped hole in the front cover and the closing sky full of starry fireworks, the creators of Brave as Can Be: A Book of Courage (2015) and other sensitive explorations of feelings offer a catalog of sweet moments and memories suitable for storing up and savoring. The overall design adds a playful element. In each of Roussey’s simply drawn and very softly colored scenes, visual surprises like a glimpse of sun behind a rain cloud or cupcakes beneath a water lily are hidden beneath small die-cut flaps—most of which are themselves of unpredictable shape and hidden by being artfully positioned within lines or patterns. Human figures, plus many of the larger toys and living creatures, are the white of the uncolored backgrounds, with color highlights supplied by freckles or red cheeks. “What about you?” the child asks at last. “What is in your treasure chest?”

A quietly joyful invitation to audiences of any age to stop taking the wonders and pleasures around them for granted. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2204-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Glowing art can’t entirely overcome uneasy text.


This nostalgic picture book celebrates the author’s Dominican heritage.

This poetic picture book sets out to dispel stereotypes and racism around skin color in the Dominican Republic, but it doesn’t quite succeed. The combination of Recio’s extended poem and McCarthy’s richly hued landscapes captures the inherent musicality and vibrancy of the Dominican countryside, coasts, and people. However, the text is sometimes hit or miss, especially when forcing a rhyme: “The shade of cinnamon in your cocoa, / drums beating so fast, they drive you loco,” feels forced. The Afro-Dominican author attempts to extol the different races found on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, elevating the country’s Black roots: “It’d be the curls and kinks / that blend my hair, / the color of charcoal / mixed with the sun’s glare.” In her striving to reclaim colorist language, Recio doesn’t quite succeed, and her use of terms such as “yellow tint” and “the Haitian black / on my Dominican back” feels at odds with the powerful message she’s trying to convey while inadvertently recalling the racial caste system put in place by Spanish colonialists. McCarthy’s stunning art interprets the text with texture and light, her illustrations portraying the diversity and beauty of the Dominican people. The lush foliage, the impossibly blue skies, and the otherworldly pinks and oranges spring off the page with joy and verve. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.1% of actual size.)

Glowing art can’t entirely overcome uneasy text. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6179-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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