An important environmental message obscurely delivered.

ZONIA'S RAIN FOREST

A young Asháninka girl in the Peruvian rain forest enjoys exploring her surroundings—until one day she sees something that frightens her.

Zonia is Asháninka, the largest Indigenous group living in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest. “Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia. / Every morning, Zonia answers.” Following a blue morpho butterfly, she greets the sloths; sings with the birds; says hello to a band of coatis; rides on a jaguar; watches Amazon river dolphins swim by; congratulates a giant anteater with new babies; sits on a giant lily pad as a caiman floats nearby; and even hangs upside down side by side with a boa constrictor. Sweet illustrations done on handmade banana-bark paper depict a spunky and happy brown-skinned child with high cheekbones and long black hair flying in the wind. Zonia’s life as portrayed here feels beyond idyllic—cartoonishly so, if not for the quality of the art. Abruptly, after her sequence of delightful encounters, Zonia comes across a section of the forest that has been clear-cut. Frightened, she runs home and tells her mother the forest needs help. When her mother tells her the forest “is speaking to you,” Zonia declares, “We all must answer”—and the book ends. With no buildup or explanation, the last sentence carries no emotional weight. The real substance of the book is in its backmatter. There, readers will find the story translated into the Asháninka language by Arlynder Sett Gaspar Paulino, information on the Asháninka and the Amazon rain forest, and the names of the animals depicted in the story. A Spanish edition, La selva de Zonia, publishes simultaneously.

An important environmental message obscurely delivered. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0845-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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