Pedantic and, contrary to its goal, exoticizing.

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YES I CAN!

A GIRL AND HER WHEELCHAIR

A girl who uses a wheelchair goes about her everyday life.

“This is Carolyn. Like many kids her age, Carolyn loves animals, castles, and building with blocks,” opens the text, revealing its aim of conveying to readers who do not use wheelchairs that a wheelchair-using girl is just like them. Carolyn “joins right in during reading time”—but why wouldn’t she? Discussions of ordinary pleasures, such as sitting next to a friend at lunch, and everyday adaptations—a school bus with an elevator “made just for wheelchairs!” (not for people using wheelchairs?)—end with exclamation marks. This forced positivity also applies to Carolyn’s mood. “Yes I can!” she repeats over and over (not in defense but supposedly out of pure enthusiasm), which makes her sound more like a political slogan than a kid. There’s lip service paid to disappointment and frustration, but everything springs back to that can-do spirit. Lemay’s children have big heads, tiny, skinny limbs, and good cheer. Carolyn is white or light-skinned, with straight, light-brown hair; her class is multiracial. The prose is mind-numbingly dull (“She is helpful to her mom and dad and even to her baby brother”); even a drop of characterization would serve readers better than this message to kids with and without wheelchairs that wheelchair users should keep everyone’s chins up, including their own. Backmatter directed to adults is awkward and, bizarrely, adds new information about Carolyn as if she were real.

Pedantic and, contrary to its goal, exoticizing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4338-2869-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

RUBY FINDS A WORRY

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message.

I'LL WALK WITH YOU

Drawing on lyrics from her Mormon children’s hymn of the same title, Pearson explores diversity and acceptance in a more secular context.

Addressing people of varying ages, races, origins, and abilities in forced rhymes that omit the original version’s references to Jesus, various speakers describe how they—unlike “some people”—will “show [their] love for” their fellow humans. “If you don’t talk as most people do / some people talk and laugh at you,” a child tells a tongue-tied classmate. “But I won’t! / I won’t! / I’ll talk with you / and giggle too. / That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Unfortunately, many speakers’ actions feel vague and rather patronizing even as they aim to include and reassure. “I know you bring such interesting things,” a wheelchair user says, welcoming a family “born far, far away” who arrives at the airport; the adults wear Islamic clothing. As pink- and brown-skinned worshipers join a solitary brown-skinned person who somehow “[doesn’t] pray as some people pray” on a church pew, a smiling, pink-skinned worshiper’s declaration that “we’re all, I see, one family” raises echoes of the problematic assertion, “I don’t see color.” The speakers’ exclamations of “But I won’t!” after noting others’ prejudiced behavior reads more as self-congratulation than promise of inclusion. Sanders’ geometric, doll-like human figures are cheery but stiff, and the text’s bold, uppercase typeface switches jarringly to cursive for the refrain, “That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Characters’ complexions include paper-white, yellow, pink, and brown.

An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4236-5395-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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