Thoroughly opaque.

READ REVIEW

YOU AND ME BOTH

Best friends forever?

The unnamed first-person narrator loves best friend Jamal, and Jamal loves the narrator, too. It’s difficult to track which child is which in the busy illustrations, and physical attributes that might help with this task are inconsistent from spread to spread. For the most part, however, one child (perhaps the speaker, given how text is placed) is usually a purple hue with orange squiggles for hair while the other appears orange with purple squiggles for hair. What is clear is that the pals like the same things, and they adore each other. They’re sad at the school day’s end because they must say goodbye to each other. The final page reads: “Twins should always stick together.” This concluding spread shows the children, their arms around each other, with the most naturalistic appearance they’ve ever had. One child has dark brown skin and curly, perhaps afro-textured hair while the other has light brown skin, freckles, and similarly curly hair. It’s hard to know what readers will make of this conclusion. Are Jamal and the narrator not, in fact, to be parted at the end of the day? Are they children of separated parents in a custody arrangement that separates them as well? Is “twins” to be read metaphorically? Even fairly sophisticated child readers will find themselves wondering just what’s going on, and the potential racial difference implied in the picture only further complicates the readings they may struggle to apply.

Thoroughly opaque. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-366-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale.

PUG'S SNOW DAY

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 2

Bub the anxious pug tackles snow days and new neighbors in his second outing.

Bub, acclaimed by some as “the cutest pug on the planet,” at first shares the enthusiasm owner Bella expresses about snow days even though he doesn’t know what they are. Then Duchess the cat (mildly antagonistic, in typical feline fashion) rains on Bub’s parade by pointing out that snow is water—and Bub’s no fan of rain or baths. After a comedic and disastrous first attempt, Bub learns how to properly dress for snow and enjoy it. The outdoor fun’s cut short by mysterious noises coming from the new neighbor, which frighten Bella into thinking there’s a monster. Bub puts on a Sherlock Holmes get-up to investigate but becomes afraid himself of the new neighbor’s large dog. Finally, Bella meets Jack, who’s been working on a tree fort, and his dog, Luna, who is enthusiastically friendly. The story ends on a positive note, as they all happily work together on the fort. The full-color cartoon illustrations, especially of Bub, are adorably expressive and certain to please the age group. The generous font and format—short, diary-entry paragraphs and speech-bubble conversations—create a quick pace. Bub’s stylized emoji bubbles return and are most hilarious when used to express his nervous flatulence. Bella and Jack both present white.

A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53006-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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