The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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