Perfect for end-of-the–school-year read-alouds and good fun all year long.

RUNAWAY SIGNS

Once school’s out for summer, the kids on a School Crossing sign decide to take a vacation.

Leaping off to adventure, they encounter a bike sign (conveniently, an equally sentient and riderless tandem) inviting it along. The three cruise the bike path, beckoning other signs to take a break from their own jobs. In Holub’s wry, pun-filled text, much of it delivered in word bubbles, many signs “[jump] at the chance.” Farrell’s humorous illustrations depict the black silhouettes of newly liberated, ambulatory figures (a park ranger, hikers, a bear, road workers). Entire signs, like HAIRPIN TURN and ONE WAY, sport sturdy white arms and legs. This animated throng is soon cavorting on the rides at the Adventureland amusement park. From atop the Ferris wheel the alarmed kids who started this all clearly spy the signless town’s growing confusion: Cars collide on a one-way street, and summer school students are unsure about safe routes to school. In character, a certain sign takes charge. “STOP! The party’s OVER!...please proceed back to your signposts.” Racing back, lessons learned, the signs resolve never to leave their posts. Almost never, that is. Final pages reveal them making quick dashes to the ice cream wagon for double dip cones: It’s summer, after all. This union of dialogue-rich text and panoramic representations of a diverse town provides a just-right balance between community-safety instruction and kid-appealing hijinks.

Perfect for end-of-the–school-year read-alouds and good fun all year long. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-17225-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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