This urban fable encourages readers to claim their space but may provoke more questions than answers.

READ REVIEW

LUCI SOARS

Who needs shadows anyway?

Luci certainly doesn’t. But soon people start noticing that even in the brightest of sunlight, Luci is missing hers. From the time she is a baby, she is hyperaware that people are judging her. As a toddler, she learns to walk in the shadows of others. However, one day at school she stops huddling in the gloom and ventures into the light. The cruel taunts of classmates drive her first to tears and then to rebellion. Finding herself no longer anchored to the ground by shadows of people or things, she soars through the city and experiences the liberating power of just being herself, taking on vibrant color that contrasts with the black-and-white world around her. Delacre’s sparse text reads more as a stream of consciousness than a story. Punctuated by a smattering of Spanish, Luci’s thoughts range from disjointed musings to powerful observations: “Mean shadows pointed. / Mean shadows laughed. / Mean shadows stared / their icy stares.” The illustrations also meander in quality, from the strikingly textured shadows to an inconsistently portrayed Luci. Peculiarly, an image of Luci crawling is partnered with the line, “But I grew up.” Luci’s apparent age continues to weirdly fluctuate—when she’s walking with her mother after the flying adventure, she appears younger than when she’s soaring. She then appears as a preteen in the final panel. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

This urban fable encourages readers to claim their space but may provoke more questions than answers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984812-88-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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