Naomi’s home—its sights, smells, sounds, and interactions—is forever a place of love.

A community archive is preserved in a unique mural.

Community sits at the heart of Naomi’s life—evidenced by the city panorama on the title spread. Naomi, a beige-skinned young girl with straight brown hair and a big smile, pokes her head out the window to see her world, full of bustle and life. Cars, bicycles, and buses rush by, past the hair salon, the mechanic, the pizzeria. A ribbon of musical notes swirls around Naomi and her busy block, denoting the noisy joy of urban life. With her best friend, Ada, a Black girl, Naomi climbs a tree, rides scooters along the block, and draws pictures in sidewalk chalk. At dusk, Naomi and her family say goodnight to the lively neighborhood. All seems well until Naomi’s world begins to change. The tree is cut down, Ada moves away, and stores begin to shut—falling victim to gentrification and urban renewal. With help from her shopkeeper friend Mr. Ray, a Black man, Naomi paints what she loves most about her neighborhood in a mural on her building. Little by little, though her world has altered, her mural grows until at last her community is preserved in vivid colors. Yamasaki and Lendler’s straightforward yet poignant text nicely complements Yamasaki’s whimsical yet grounded illustrations that depict this portrait of urban connection. Her bright, bold palette is eye-catching, with carefully portrayed diverse neighbors, young and old. 

Naomi’s home—its sights, smells, sounds, and interactions—is forever a place of love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00491-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the How To Catch… series

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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