Knowledge of Virginia Woolf and her painter-sister Vanessa Bell is unnecessary; this works beautifully as a bad-day/bad-mood...

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VIRGINIA WOLF

In the literary bounty of books about bad moods and bad days, this one goes deeper than most, poignantly showing literal and metaphorical glimpses of real depression.

“One day my sister Virginia woke up feeling wolfish. She made wolf sounds and did strange things,” begins narrator Vanessa. Huddled in bed, only pointy ears showing, is a wolf. Virginia’s unable to bear the bright-yellow gingham of Vanessa’s dress or the sound of Vanessa brushing her own teeth. This is potent misery: “The whole house sank. Up became down. Bright became dim.” Vanessa creeps into bed to comfort her sister, but what finally helps is painting. At the wolf’s suggestion, Vanessa paints a whimsical, expanding world called “Bloomsberry,” bursting with blossoms, birds and magic. Arsenault reproduces the earlier “Up became down” spread but inverts its position and hue: Now objects waft upwards and the mood is buoyant. The wolf—previously a black near-silhouette with snout and tail, wearing a dress—morphs back into a girl. Wolf ears, silhouetted from behind, become a hair bow. Ink, pencil and paint deftly divide color from black-and-white as emotional symbolism. Lettering is carefully handwritten.

Knowledge of Virginia Woolf and her painter-sister Vanessa Bell is unnecessary; this works beautifully as a bad-day/bad-mood or animal-transformation tale, while readers who know actual depression will find it handled with tenderly forceful aplomb. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-649-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Less pathological than Love You Forever but aimed at the same audience.

ONE MORE HUG

The reassurance of “one more hug” allows a little boy to take on fears, new challenges, and responsibilities as he grows into an older boy, adolescent, and finally young man.

Graceful gouache paintings delineate a child’s progress, from coping with the fear of a storm and a broken toy through the first time on a school bus, growing older and learning to climb a tree, ride a bike, play soccer, training with the track team, and, ultimately, driving away to life on his own. All the while, Mama is there to provide support and love, always with a special hug. Related in the past tense by Mama, the narrative reflects a nostalgic remembrance yet conveys the constant unbreakable bond between mother and child. “But even though you were older, you were still my boy. And you asked for… // one more hug before your big performance.” In a final sentimental reflection, Mama wonders if her now-adult son understands her pride and love for him and is happily rewarded with a surprise visit and “one more hug.” Children will enjoy reviewing the relatable illustrations of a growing child’s activities; however, it’s parents who will undoubtedly identify with the emotions. According to the author’s note, the intent is to assure parents that sons should be allowed to express their feelings. Both Mama and son are white.

Less pathological than Love You Forever but aimed at the same audience. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2971-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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