An important part of history engagingly told.

BORN TO RIDE

A STORY ABOUT BICYCLE FACE

In this story set in 1896 Rochester, New York, a young girl determines to ride her brother’s new bicycle, going against societal mores.

Young Louisa Belinda is determined to ride her brother’s new bicycle despite inappropriate clothing (she solves that problem by changing her skirts for her brother’s pants) and fears of “bicycle face.” “Bicycle face,” Theule informs readers, was a caution put forth at the time to dissuade females from bicycling. It asserted that girls weren’t “strong enough to balance” and that their eyes would bulge and their jaw lock with the effort—“maybe FOREVER.” Oh dear. Louisa Belinda, however, is undeterred as she tries, falls, and tries again. Her perseverance is adroitly captured by Garrity-Riley’s naïve-style artwork. The illustrator also enhances the story by adding a visual parallel thread. Several illustrations show gatherings of adult women (both white, like Louisa Belinda and her family, and black) making posters for women’s suffrage. Meanwhile, Louisa Belinda succeeds in riding and discovers a very different bicycle face: one of joy. The story wraps up with Louisa Belinda’s suffragist mother sewing herself a pair of bloomers as the mother and daughter head off with their bicycles. Three pages of backmatter deliver more detail about the historical struggles of females for more freedoms, whether it be riding a bicycle or getting the vote.

An important part of history engagingly told. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3412-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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