From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series , Vol. 98

Even for this series, a particularly cloying entry.

A sugary profile of the people’s princess.

Aptly timed, considering the recent British succession, this sanitized portrait of the late royal leaves out her various affairs and much else but does highlight her later advocacy for AIDS victim relief and minefield clearing, among other social causes. Even more than usual in her Little People, BIG DREAMS series, Sánchez Vegara really lays on the gooey prose—beginning with accounts of Diana’s birth as not the hoped-for son but still “such a breath of joy that she became the apple of her father’s eye” and her practice of bestowing hugs on her younger brother, Charles, that “were filled with the love that a kid needs to grow.” From there it was on to a school award for, according to the accompanying illustration, “Kindest Girl,” the royal wedding, subsequent bouts of bulimia (described in discomfiting detail) at the discovery that her husband’s “heart belonged to someone else,” and divorce. But “little Diana never regretted leaving the palace to follow her own path: the path of a true princess who—by opening herself up to others—became a queen in people’s hearts.” Mention of her death is relegated to a line in the afterword. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Even for this series, a particularly cloying entry. (timeline, photos) (Picture-book biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780711283077

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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