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 celebration of and an introduction to the mosque.

IN MY MOSQUE

Children welcome readers into different mosques to learn about varying activities and services that take place in them.

Though many different mosques and children are depicted, the voices call readers’ attention to the similarities among Muslim communities around the world. Yuksel highlights the community eating together; women, men, and children sharing the space and praying together; grandfathers thumbing their tasbihs; grandmothers reading the Quran; aunties giving hugs; children playing. The effect is to demonstrate that a mosque is more than just a building but rather a space where children and adults come together to pray, give, learn, and play. Joyful characters describe what happens in simple, poetic language: “In my mosque, the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes in the air. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, linked like one long chain.” Aly’s bright illustrations pair well with Yuksel’s words, ending with a beautiful spread of children staring at readers, waving and extending their hands: “You are welcome in my mosque.” The variety of mosques included suggests that each has its own unique architecture, but repeating geometric patterns and shapes underscore that there are similarities too. The author’s note guides readers to her website for more information on the mosques depicted; they are not labeled, which is frustrating since the backmatter also includes a tantalizing list of famous mosques on every continent except Antarctica.

Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque. (glossary, sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297870-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Though cheerful illustrations add some zest, this little prayer feels flat.

MY LITTLE PRAYER

Based on the lyrics of his song by the same name, Archuleta’s foray into picture books calls upon his musical roots as well as his faith.

The book is language-sparse, with most of the story told through Ugolotti’s illustrations. These depict a White child who dreams of playing soccer but must grapple with disappointment. When the unnamed protagonist, who presents male, is not picked to play for the soccer team, he befriends a Black child who presents female and who has also been left out of the game, due to injury. Their initial connection on the sidelines blossoms into a true friendship, proving to be a far richer outcome than the aspiring soccer star could have anticipated. Alongside the visual story runs a little prayer of gratitude thanking God for his presence, patience, and plan in the child’s life. The words are general, with no reference to either soccer or friendship: “Heavenly Father, I am grateful for your eternal presence. / I am learning to be patient and that you are really there.” Though the interracial mixed-gender friendship is cute, the overall prayer and plot are bland. This is useful to augment collections and bookshelves where Christian picture books are in high demand, but it does not stand out from the pack. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Though cheerful illustrations add some zest, this little prayer feels flat. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952239-54-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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