Kudos to this dad for not only making chores fun and making the most of time with his daughter, but for meeting her on her...

HAMMER AND NAILS

When Darcy’s best friend cancels their play date due to illness, her dad saves the day in style.

Darcy-Daddy Day entails doing one item from Daddy’s list followed by one item from Darcy’s, until both lists are done. Darcy isn’t sure about this plan, but Daddy is game, jumping in with both feet to humor his princess: when it’s Dress Up time, he asks, “Were you thinking fancy or super fancy?” And the result is Daddy sporting jeans, a plaid shirt, and a pink tutu. Before the day is done, he also finds himself in a headband and with black nail polish, having mastered manicures. But he’s not the only one to try new things. Darcy mows the lawn (actually, she rides on the mower while dad mows her name in the grass), does laundry (aka a sock fight and matching socks), and, biggest accomplishment of all, hammers nails in the fence that protects her castle. “ ‘You were great with that hammer.’ // ‘And Daddy—you were great with these nails.’ ” Warrick’s watercolor and digital paint illustrations marvelously play up the dichotomy between the burly, tutu-clad white dad and his girly, white daughter, purse full of tools over her shoulder and tiara on her head. And these chores are certainly ones that readers will want to emulate.

Kudos to this dad for not only making chores fun and making the most of time with his daughter, but for meeting her on her level. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-9362613-6-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging.

ISLANDBORN

A young girl’s homework assignment unravels the history and beauty of her homeland.

Lola and her classmates are assigned to draw pictures of their respective origin countries. With excitement, the others begin sharing what they will draw: pyramids, a long canal, a mongoose. Lola, concerned, doesn’t remember what life was like on the Island, and so she recruits her whole neighborhood. There is Leticia, her cousin; Mrs. Bernard, who sells the crispy empanadas; Leticia’s brother Jhonathan, a barber; her mother; her abuela; and their gruff building superintendent. With every description, Lola learns something new: about the Island’s large bats, mangoes, colorful people, music and dancing everywhere, the beaches and sea life, and devastating hurricanes. Espinosa’s fine, vibrant illustrations dress the story in colorful cacophony and play with texture (hair especially) as Lola conjures images of her homeland. While the story does not identify the Island by name, readers familiar with Díaz’s repertoire will instantly identify it as the Dominican Republic, a conclusion that’s supported when the super recalls the Monster (Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo), and sharp-eyed readers should look at the magnets on Lola’s refrigerator. Lola, Teresa Mlawer’s translation, is just as poignant as the original.

Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2986-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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