The sites are well-chosen and terrifically multicultural. Readers may like them even better if they ignore the fragmented...

EVERYBODY SAYS SHALOM

This introduction to Israel is a book that can be read out of order.

It’s easy to spot the moment when this picture book turns into a rhyming dictionary. After several pages of rhyming verse, the syntax shifts, abruptly, from couplets (“Everybody says shalom / passing by a golden dome”) to a staccato list of words (“Gazing. / Grazing. // Fishing. / Wishing”). There are two types of rhyming words in this book. Some readers will see coming: “Right to left / and left to right. // In the morning… // late at night.” Other rhymes are so unpredictable they’re nearly random: “Haying. // Praying.” There’s no plot to speak of, except that the characters take a trip to Israel and fly home afterward. The book doesn’t quite work as a story or as poetry, but it does make a pretty good travel guide. The family visits more than a dozen sites in Israel (the highlights are listed in an appendix at the back), and the book makes them look very appealing. Shipman’s Raschka-esque paintings have as many colors as a fruit bowl. Observant readers will also notice a pink gecko hiding on just about every page.

The sites are well-chosen and terrifically multicultural. Readers may like them even better if they ignore the fragmented rhymes on top of the pictures. (Picture book. 3-7) (They include a shuk and a Baha’i shrine.) Readers may like them even better if they ignore the fragmented rhymes on top of the pictures(Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38336-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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

WHAT IF...

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.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

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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