All children will benefit from this pitch-perfect discussion of race, identity, complexity, and beauty.

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LULU THE ONE AND ONLY

Lulu’s story gives children tools to talk about biracial identity.

This picture book tells the story of Lulu (short for Luliwa), her brother, Zane, and their biracial family. Daddy coaches Zane’s hockey team, and Mama studies space and compares Lulu to her namesake—the black pearls that come from her grandmother’s Kenyan homeland. With one black parent and one white parent, Lulu must navigate frequent questions about her identities. Most upsetting to Lulu is the question “What are you?” Lulu hates it as much as she loves her family. Thankfully, Zane comes to the rescue by suggesting Lulu devise a powerful response to these questions: the “power phrase.” This phrase is a masterful, self-affirming response to other people’s insensitive questions about their identity and family. Armed with her own unique power phrase—“I’m Lulu Lovington, the ONE and only!”—Lulu feels empowered to handle any questions that come her way. Poh’s friendly cartoons depict Lulu with pale brown skin and two energetic afro-puff pigtails. This book does more than simply tell a single story of biracial experience: It talks about navigating everyday racism in sensitive, but frank, ways. This affirmation is just as important as the power phrase. In a concluding note, the author, herself biracial, provides essential, candid guidelines for talking about race, self-love, and identity with mixed-race children.

All children will benefit from this pitch-perfect discussion of race, identity, complexity, and beauty. (Picture book. 4-11)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3159-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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