Full of quiet moments of joy and affirmation.

DAD BAKES

A loving father bakes at work and at home to make a life for his child and himself.

Under a full moon, Dad wakes and walks to work. Streetlights glow as an elevated train passes, and the Rise Up Bakery beckons with its warm light. Inside, Dad works side by side through the night with racially diverse bakers of different ages, returning home in the morning. While he rests, his capable child keeps busy till it’s time to wake Dad. Together they make bread and share in small moments while waiting for the dough to rise—reading, gardening, playing dress-up and soccer. At last they enjoy the teddy-bear–shaped bread on their rooftop before Dad tucks his little one into bed. These peaceful vignettes weave a picture of love and devotion, of parenthood and childhood enjoyed to its fullest. Heartfelt painterly illustrations offer a much-needed depiction of the diversity of fathers. Here, Dad is of Asian descent with a shaved bald head, brown skin, and an abundance of tattoos. Yamasaki’s simple text is accessible to even young readers. Her author’s note also brings a new dimension to the story, as she dedicates it to families affected by incarceration and the organizations helping them to rebuild their lives. Subtle hints that incarceration is a part of the main characters’ past are in the opening, wordless spreads, showing the child reading a box of letters from Dad.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

Full of quiet moments of joy and affirmation. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-01541-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 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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