This bracing and illuminating bilingual tale deftly shows a kid’s love for a favorite truck.

MY MONSTER TRUCK GOES EVERYWHERE WITH ME

ILLUSTRATED IN AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE

A child spends time with a special toy in this debut picture book featuring illustrations in American Sign Language.

A blond, blue-eyed boy introduces a monster truck, spelling out the toy’s letters in ASL on the first page. “He goes EVERYWHERE with ME,” the kid announces. The boy describes the truck, adding a modifier that is also signed on each page: big, purple, fast, and loud. Readers can sign along with the child. One day, the boy gets up, eats breakfast, and heads to Grandma’s house, where more fun awaits: a monster truck rally with plenty of friends. The next day, the truck has vanished, and the boy signs his mixed emotions. Soon, Grandma arrives to return the toy, and all is well. Marcath uses simple language and repeating words, creating a narrative accessible to newly independent readers. Mehra and debut illustrator Liang’s digital cartoon images depict ASL clearly, delivering instructions and incorporating the signs into the narrative naturally and effectively. (The endmatter notes that Liang is deaf.) The kids in the cast are quite diverse in their skin tones, hair colors, and abilities. While new ASL learners may not be able to mimic the movements exactly without seeing them demonstrated, the team has provided a link to online videos that show the entire tale signed. Children who already use ASL will be thrilled to see their language skillfully represented in the story’s illustrations.

This bracing and illuminating bilingual tale deftly shows a kid’s love for a favorite truck.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73475-171-0

Page Count: 38

Publisher: ASL Picture Books LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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