A visually arresting, haunting, wordless tale guaranteed to spark wonder

READ REVIEW

SELKIE

Falling overboard, a fisherman experiences a mysterious underwater encounter with a seal.

Impressionistic illustrations alone tell this bewitching, somewhat bewildering tale. Returning with their catches, fishermen (all evidently white and male) head into a tavern to regale one another with tall tales of pirates, giant fish, and mermaids. At dawn, they set sail once more, and their nets soon fill with fish. When he discovers a gray seal tangled in his net, a fisherman in a green sweater falls overboard trying to release it. Caught in the net himself, the fisherman’s pulled down with the seal into the ocean’s depths, where they engage in aquatic acrobatics, so closely entwined that the fisherman appears to become a green seal. Slowly the gray seal draws the fisherman upward toward the fishing boat, pulling and pushing him until his smiling comrades hoist him aboard as the seal watches them depart. The delicate, indistinct illustrations (appropriately rendered in faint pencil lines washed freely in watercolor hues echoing the blue-green ocean, yellow sunlight, and gray seal) effectively convey the vast underwater stillness. Clever use of full-page and double-page spreads as well as horizontal and vertical panels heightens the silent, dramatic communion taking place between fisherman and seal. From the title, readers may assume the seal’s a selkie, but the absence of text, notes, or visual details combines with the apparent transformation of the fisherman to leave readers uncertain.

A visually arresting, haunting, wordless tale guaranteed to spark wonder . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-76036-054-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Breaking the bounds of a traditional picture book, Iris’ creative growth elevates us all.

LIFT

Bridging the gap between picture book and graphic novel, this charmer catapults a simple storyline of sibling jealousy into outer space.

Iris, the older of two small children, always has the job of pushing the button on the elevator. “Up or down, our floor or the lobby, I always get to push the button.” One day, her toddler sibling reaches out and pushes the button before she can. Their parents’ joy over the smaller child’s new trick is pure betrayal to Iris. The baby has stolen her job, just like her stuffed tiger. Lê and Santat, creators of Asian/Pacific Award–winner Drawn Together (2018), have produced another inspired storyline fueled by emotions that come alive with magnetic illustrations. Dark frames around each scene keep the focus on Iris, a black-haired girl with expressive eyes that pierce through her messy bangs. (The whole family has black hair and pale skin.) Styled like a graphic novel’s, the illustrations focus on Iris’ feelings as she imagines a new elevator button, one that she can control, with the magical ability to transport her to other worlds. Frustration, invention, escape, wonder—all move across the pages with immediacy. Like Sendak’s Max, Iris uses anger to lift her away from the real world into jungles and outer space. And she returns to her room changed.

Breaking the bounds of a traditional picture book, Iris’ creative growth elevates us all. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-03692-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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