A good conversation starter for use with children who share Chloe’s privilege.

ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE

A young girl named Chloe learns that, sometimes, it’s more important to be kind than to be correct.

The book opens to loosely drawn children of various ethnicities casually sitting around a long cafeteria table. Pale-skinned, carrot-topped Adrian Simcox sits far to the right, staring off into space. Text set above him declares: “Adrian Simcox sits all by himself, probably daydreaming again.” The next spread—parents and children waiting for a school bus—shows the white narrator looking irritated as she witnesses Adrian telling “anyone who will listen that he has a horse.” Chloe has used logic to figure out that Adrian is lying, and the text pulls no punches as she rattles off some of the ways she can tell Adrian could never afford to own a horse, including “the free lunch at school” and holes in his shoes. Chloe notices that Adrian looks sad after she finally accuses him to his face of lying, but it is her mother’s ingenious use of showing—not telling—that brings Chloe to a new level of understanding. The tale is poignant and at times slightly humorous as well as frankly didactic. The art is an excellent complement, adding such dimensions as Chloe’s mother fixing a bike; contrasts between Chloe’s and Adrian’s respective school desks and neighborhoods; brushy foliage that repeatedly reveals Adrian’s imaginary horse.

A good conversation starter for use with children who share Chloe’s privilege. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3037-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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