A quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it.

TOWN IS BY THE SEA

The coal mines of Cape Breton in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia have closed, but this book recalls a time when generations of men toiled in the mines under the sea.

As the book starts, a white couple stands by the door. The woman holds her husband’s lunch pail as he gets ready to leave home. Upstairs, their son wakes up, and it is from him that readers will get to know his town and life by the sea, the repeated phrase “it goes like this—” lending the narrative a timeless quality. Both the text and the illustrations have a simple, understated quality that go hand in hand and lend a melancholic feel to the whole. A muted palette and images heavily outlined in black reinforce the feeling. As the boy goes about his life above—playing with his brown-skinned friend; coming home to a simple lunch; going to the store with a list for the grocer; or visiting his grandfather’s grave overlooking the sea—several predominantly black two-page spreads, vigorously textured strokes of black and gray adding weight, are woven into the narrative, reminding readers that deep down, the miners are digging for coal. A particularly poignant spread depicts the front door of the house in a wordless series, the angle of the sunlight showing time going by; in the last image the door is opening, and the narrator’s father is home at last.

A quiet book that will stay with readers long after they have closed it. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-871-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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This multigenerational snuggle will encourage the sharing of old memories and the creation of new ones.

GRANDMA'S GIRL

Hill and Bobbiesi send a humungous hug from grandmothers to their granddaughters everywhere.

Delicate cartoon art adds details to the rhyming text showing multigenerational commonalities. “You and I are alike in such wonderful ways. / You will see more and more as you grow” (as grandmother and granddaughter enjoy the backyard together); “I wobbled uncertainly just as you did / whenever I tried something new” (as a toddler takes first steps); “And if a bad dream woke me up in the night, / I snuggled up with my lovey too” (grandmother kisses granddaughter, who clutches a plush narwhal). Grandmother-granddaughter pairs share everyday joys like eating ice cream, dancing “in the rain,” and making “up silly games.” Although some activities skew stereotypically feminine (baking, yoga), a grandmother helps with a quintessential volcano experiment (this pair presents black, adding valuable STEM representation), another cheers on a young wheelchair athlete (both present Asian), and a third, wearing a hijab, accompanies her brown-skinned granddaughter on a peace march, as it is “important to speak out for what you believe.” The message of unconditional love is clear throughout: “When you need me, I’ll be there to listen and care. / There is nothing that keeps us apart.” The finished book will include “stationery…for a special letter from Grandma to you!”

This multigenerational snuggle will encourage the sharing of old memories and the creation of new ones. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0623-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

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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