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

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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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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