A warm, loving, necessary reminder of the power in families coming together.

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GOING DOWN HOME WITH DADDY

A young boy ponders the perfect tribute to his great-grandma for their annual family reunion.

This year everyone’s prepared something special for Granny’s anniversary celebration “down home”—everyone except Lil Alan. As he considers what to give, Lil Alan’s weekend is marked by memories connected to the land and his family, those who are still alive and ancestors that have passed on. Ultimately, he gifts an object lesson that emphasizes the legacy of love that brings them together as a “mighty family.” Imagery is presented in marvelous metaphors (“I watch as we drive from city streets to flowing highways under a sweep of sparkling stars”), while lighthearted ribbing (“ ‘Got a head just like your daddy,’ Uncle Jay teases me”) and soul food ( “smoked turkey, mac and cheese, okra and tomatoes, and biscuits oozing mayhaw jelly”—yum) set the scene for a celebration of myriad African-American and family traditions. Minter’s acrylic-wash prints soar as stenciled cotton bolls, okra, and pecans dot the pages alongside images of family members in sepia and blue-black hues. One striking spread details silhouettes of Lil Alan, Sis, and Momma layered on top of one another, same eyes, lips, and textured hair and same reunion T-shirt imprinted with a simple, familiar, deeply rooted tree.

A warm, loving, necessary reminder of the power in families coming together. (Picture book. 4-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56145-938-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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SULWE

With the help of a legend about Day and Night, a dark-skinned black child learns that she is beautiful inside and out.

Sulwe is “the color of midnight,” the darkest in her multihued family, and is teased in school. She tries everything to lighten her skin: an eraser, makeup, eating light foods, prayer. Her mother tells her she is beautiful and that her name, Sulwe, or “star,” refers to an inner brightness, but she can’t see it in herself. Then a shooting star comes to her window, sent by the night, and brings Sulwe out to tell her about Night and Day, two sisters who loved each other but were treated differently. When Night left after people called her names like “scary,” “bad,” and “ugly,” the people realized that they needed her. The stars added that “some light can only be seen in the dark.” After learning how Night and Day are both needed, Sulwe knows that she is “dark and beautiful, bright and strong.” Harrison’s glossy illustrations faithfully render the features of black people, allowing the beauty of different skin tones to shine, with deep purple tones in the darkness, reinforcing the story’s message. In an author’s note, Nyong’o shares her own past struggles with her complexion.

A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2536-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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