Good both for classroom explorations of metaphors and for inspiring imaginative play.


As they move through their day, a busy family changes skin, fur, and feathers.

Buzzing and tumbling out of bed, they are a family of bumblebees, the boy in the bottom bunk sporting delicate wings, while his sister in the top is almost wholly bee—pajama top and bottom are visible, but just barely, beneath a fuzzy bee body, and she has antennae and wings. By the turn of the page, the siblings have morphed into moose, the brother’s antlers helping his sister in her climb to reach the sugary cereal. Some of Freudig’s metaphors work better than others, and similarly, some of Barry’s detailed, realistic illustrations include more animal parts, other less: “When our socks sag and our pants are wrinkled, we’re a family of TURTLES,” shows the two sleepy, sluggish children getting dressed, the girl upside down in her turtle shell, but when they eat spicy food and cool the fire with water, they (inexplicably) sport the heads of foxes. Other transformations include puffins, squirrels, ducks, ants, sea gulls, seals, field mice, fireflies, skunks, raccoons, and bears. The mother, father, and grandmother sometimes get into the act, as well, the grandmother delighted to join in the puddle-stomping of her duck grandchildren, all three with white wings and orange webbed feet. Dad’s white with curly red hair, while mom looks East Asian.

Good both for classroom explorations of metaphors and for inspiring imaginative play. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-934031-48-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.


A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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