LILLYBELLE

A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS

A damsel-in-training saves her own skin.

LillyBelle adores tea parties, but she is not the standard student at Lady Frilly’s School for Damsels: She enjoys playing loud music and baking absurdly tall cakes. LillyBelle also refuses to accept Lady Frilly’s lesson that damsels are meant to be kidnapped and saved, never to properly fend for themselves. One day, while out playing hopscotch, LillyBelle is abducted by a witch, but LillyBelle isn’t afraid. Instead of waiting for a prince or a knight or a wizard to save her, LillyBelle takes matters into her own hands to decide her own fate. But for LillyBelle, escaping the witch is just the beginning of a long journey back home that finds her using her baking skills, fondness for loud music, and even Lady Frilly’s deportment lessons to return home unharmed. Pastro effectively uses both the traditional rule of three and oft-seen fairy-tale characters to subvert a particularly pernicious fairy-tale trope. The picture book’s lessons of self-empowerment, the importance of dialogue, and the value of understanding are efficiently rendered, aided by rounded, earth-toned illustrations that create a grounded fairy-tale world little readers will enjoy. LillyBelle has beige skin and fluffy black hair; her classmates are somewhat diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 13% of actual size.)

An empowering fairy tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-296-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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