An interesting take on biblical stories and autism stories that may struggle to find an audience.

THE WORLD NEEDS BEAUTIFUL THINGS

A young boy’s love for nature reminds the adults around him to appreciate the simpler things.

Bezalel is a collector. He is also one of Pharaoh’s slaves in ancient Egypt. He often stops his work to pick up stones, bugs’ fallen wings, and other things from nature that others see as trash. When the slaves are freed, Bezalel brings his Beautiful Things Box with him and continues to fill it as they journey away from Egypt. When the Israelites stop in the desert and God asks Moses to build a mishkan, it is Bezalel who has the objects and the eye for finding more that allow them to make God’s sanctuary on Earth beautiful. With the exception of spreads depicting the Israelites’ nighttime travel through the desert, illustrations are earth-toned, with immersive full-bleeds and occasional vignettes. Bezalel is almost always set off, as if to depict how different he is from others. Indeed, he could be interpreted as being on the autism spectrum, an interpretation also implied by the author’s note that children like Bezalel “look different or act differently from others.” Readers unfamiliar with the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt may find it difficult to understand the beginning of the story, as Bezalel and the other Jews toil, and those who are familiar with it may find the one-sentence announcement of freedom insufficiently attentive of the moment.

An interesting take on biblical stories and autism stories that may struggle to find an audience. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-4448-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.

BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR

A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own.

In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy’s text describes what “Black is” physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as “the braids in my best friend’s hair,” to the conceptual: “Black is soft-singing, ‘Hush now, don’t explain’ ”—a reference to the song “Don’t Explain” made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, and “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-631-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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