LOLA DUTCH WHEN I GROW UP

A girl experiments with careers and loves them all.

In prior book Lola Dutch (2018), the narrative voice classified Lola’s exuberant personality as “too much”; this time it’s her career aspirations. Fortunately, after opening with the same chiding tone (“This is Lola. Lola Dutch. Lola Dutch wants to be too much”), the narration drops the judgment, and Lola goes to town, sampling careers to her heart’s content. She’s an opera singer! Inventor! Botanist! Each requires copious assistance—for example, “Gator built the set. Pig composed the orchestrations. Crane designed the costumes”—depicted in vignettes, after which readers see a full-bleed double-page spread of accomplishment: Lola onstage belting opera or Lola perching in an I’m-the-king-of-the-world pose in the nose of her old-fashioned, mildly steampunk flying ship. Other careers fly by more quickly in spot illustrations: astronaut, pastry chef, veterinarian, chemist. Visual references to Vermeer and Leonardo will tickle adults. Ever present is Lola’s steady guardian, Bear, who’s ungendered, wears a yellow bow tie, and seems to lack feet (to no mobility detriment). The pencil, gouache, and watercolor illustrations are airy and cheerful. Lola, a tall, skinny white girl, is supposedly facing a quandary here—what to be when she grows up—but her career explorations and boundless energy are exciting, not stressful.

Breezily enthusiastic. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-554-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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