Liu transforms a mundane walk to the mailbox into an exceptionally delightful visual treat.

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MY CITY

A young boy tasked with mailing a letter has a big adventure on his way to the mailbox in this German import.

Liu (My Museum, 2017) returns with another colorful, nearly wordless picture book about Max, a baseball-cap–clad boy with an infectious smile, perpetually open arms, and a keen eye for detail. On this early fall day, he’s off to mail a letter “all by himself” in a city lovingly depicted in full-bleed paintings composed with thick, textured brush strokes and abstracted, simplified shapes. He walks past the laundromat, pausing to watch colorful blobs swirl in the machines, then stops at a crosswalk with a group of pedestrians of diverse ages and skin tones. Almost everyone is looking at their devices, but Max and the woman next to him both gaze down at a small puddle and, with an unexpected perspective shift, readers turn the page to see their two smiling faces reflected in the puddle, which now occupies the entire spread and seems to contain a whole city in itself. The book continues to follow this formula: Pages depicting Max walking past generic city sights (an art museum, a garbage truck, a crowded intersection) are interspersed with perspective shifts that position readers either next to him or directly interacting with him as he moves observantly through the city. Charming details abound, from a subplot involving a lost dog to the white endpapers covered in blue crayonlike scribbles that seem to map Max’s rambling path. Max and his mother share the same ruddy complexions.

Liu transforms a mundane walk to the mailbox into an exceptionally delightful visual treat. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7377-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Cool and stylish.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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