Whether used as a read-aloud or a bridge between early readers and chapter books, a serene treat.

An agreeable young girl named Pinny enjoys her version of a perfect day near the sea.

Four extremely short chapters—generously illustrated with richly textured artwork—divide the tale, starting with “Pinny” and ending with “Pinny Has a Party.” The blonde, white girl skips along the shore, looking for a “wishing rock.” She accepts a skinned knee with equanimity, as it leads her to “the most perfect wishing rock she had ever seen.” Her contentment in solitude is matched by delight in her friends, a child with East Asian features and a white redhead. The three children enjoy blueberrying and cloud-gazing until a summer rain hastens them to their homes, with a promise of blueberry cake at Pinny’s home later that day. A sea gull enters and re-enters this gentle tale, in which adult humans are, happily, neither seen nor heard. Any children who have spent time in nature will relish the story, as will fans of such classics as One Morning in Maine. When a potentially dark moment arises in the final chapter, Pinny’s gracious, optimistic personality immediately turns clouds into sunshine. The tone of the book is sweet and reassuring, and the art perfectly catches the joy of pleasant, unstructured time. Particularly lovely: Pinny dancing around her kitchen upon completion of her blueberry cake.

Whether used as a read-aloud or a bridge between early readers and chapter books, a serene treat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-782-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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