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Slice-of-life Native stories told with joy and reverence.

An Indigenous child’s touching tribute to Bob, the trusty family car.

“Dear Bob,” begins Rogers’ (Wichita) latest picture book, told from the perspective of a kid named Katie. “Mom and Dad told me about / the day they bought you / at the dealership / when I was a baby…. / They said that your paint sparkled in the sun, / your seats felt feather-soft, / and you had that new car smell.” What starts as a simple ode to a well-cherished sedan quickly becomes a more nuanced love letter to Native families, accompanied by emotion-driven, comic art from Nelson (Diné). Readers will find themselves riding along as the family attends the Wichita Annual Dance, speeds away from a formidable moose while on a road trip to Grand Teton, visits Aka:h (Wichita for grandparent) in her Shaconage (Smoky Mountains) home, and goes on everyday excursions to school, the library, and friends’ houses. Far from a mere piece of machinery, Bob is a treasured member of the close-knit family—“When we got into / a fender bender, / you kept us safe, / and we took care of / you then, too.” The narrative ends with a bittersweet so:ti:c?a (thank you) and goodbye as Bob is traded in for a car to better fit the growing family. For its tender vignettes of modern Indigenous life, this tale will make a glowing addition to any personal, school, or public library. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Slice-of-life Native stories told with joy and reverence. (author’s note, glossary, info on current tribal locations, publisher’s note) (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780063044555

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Heartdrum

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 2

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D.

Breakout kid barber J.D. embraces a summer of opportunity.

Readers met J.D. Jones just as he took his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, by storm, winning himself community acclaim and a chair at the revered Hart and Sons barbershop in series opener J.D. and the Great Barber Battle(2021). What’s next for the haircut prodigy? School’s just getting out, and there’s so much life happening outside—if only one can escape home learning with the grandparents. J.D.’s sister, Vanessa, brings along multitalented mutual friend Jessyka to share an ambitious challenge: “Let’s start a YouTube channel!” Can they get millions of views and wow the whole world? They are already amazing at haircuts and hairstyles—all they need is to learn how to make a great YouTube video. The story models strategies for scripting short videos reflecting the templates of viral YouTube hair tutorials, inviting readers to not only see the journey of the characters, but maybe also practice these skills at home. This book is bound to educate all about some of the most storied and cherished traditions within the Black community. Bringing in Vanessa is a great touch to extend the series across gender, and hopefully she’ll get a chance to lead her own adventures. This book blends skill-building, entrepreneurship, and strong family values to give young Black children visions of what’s possible when they follow their passions and embrace their community.

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11155-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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