An important story about bullying despite the relatively simple resolution.

GENIE MEANIE

From the Orca Echoes series

When 8-year-old Kiara Prasad finds a genie trapped in a bottle, she looks forward to wishing away her big problem at school: Matt, the bully.

Kiara recently lost her grandmother, and no one—including her grandfather visiting from India, her parents, and her best friend, Bai Leng—can ease her pain. To make matters worse, Kiara’s grandmother was the only one who truly understood how mean some of the other kids at school could be. While going through some of the odds and ends her grandmother left her, Kiara finds a bottle labeled Zayn Garam Masala; when she opens the bottle, she unwittingly releases a genie, Zayn. Kiara is initially excited, as she hopes Zayn can help her take care of Matt, but the genie claims to be on vacation and refuses to grant her any wishes. Without the promise of magic, Kiara must summon the courage to stand up to Matt’s bullying once and for all. Most of the characters are people of color: The protagonist and her family are Indian, Zayn is presumably Muslim, and Bai is Chinese; Matt is white. While Narsimhan’s dialogue does not always sound authentically childlike, the issue of bullying is portrayed realistically though resolved easily. Simpson’s cute cartoons in black and white are interspersed throughout the narrative, supporting the text and providing readers with some visual humor.

An important story about bullying despite the relatively simple resolution. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2398-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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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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