Best when shared with early elementary schoolers by an adult with time and tact for the discussion that will surely follow.

What if all the world’s trees disappeared?

The fear of being burned or cut to pieces convinces the trees in Goran’s world to pull up their roots and depart, taking the shade, the birds, and the animals and leaving behind a “thick, grey smog.” Remembering all the ways he’s enjoyed the tree in his garden, Goran worries that it will leave too. He convinces it to stay and sleep through the winter while he and his friends replant the forest and pick up trash. In spring, the tree wakes to a better world. Quintana Silva, who described a refugee experience in Kalak’s Journey (illustrated by Marie-Noëlle Hébert and also translated by Brokenbrow, 2018), here introduces children to another distressing issue: deforestation. The obvious lesson in this parable is hammered home by its last line: “No trees were harmed in making this story.” The Spanish publisher has used a special “stone paper” made with calcium carbonate and high-density polyethylene. This paper feels lovely in the hand, and the pastel illustrations, done in vivid, if synthetic, colors, show off beautifully. But librarians should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of this paper, which is advertised as durable, waterproof, and photo degradable—that is, the art may fade in time. While it lasts, though, it will make a conversation-provoking read-aloud. Goran presents white. The Spanish edition is also available.

Best when shared with early elementary schoolers by an adult with time and tact for the discussion that will surely follow. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-16733-46-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the Questioneers series

A much-needed reminder that kindness will always win out.

Teachers influence children profoundly.

From earliest childhood, Lila Greer, the youngest of five in a single-dad household, has been a worrier. Then the family moves. Entering second grade feels overwhelming: Nothing’s familiar, and she has no friends. But Ms. Kern, Lila’s new teacher, invites Lila to erase the chalkboard at recess and to articulate her fears. It helps that someone listens. Soon, classmates get into the act, and lonely Lila makes friends, emerges from her shell, and learns that “what ifs” have positive sides. Lila grows up, still fretting sometimes, and then becomes a new teacher who worries upon meeting her own students. But then she remembers the teacher who helped her overcome her fears and doubts years earlier. What was that marvelous, ineffable quality Ms. Kern possessed? Then Lila remembers: It was kindness! Harnessing that memory, Lila now welcomes her own “smiling young faces.” This is a sweet story that emphasizes good cheer, helpfulness, and the importance of feeling welcome and heard, no matter who you are: terrific messages, expressed in bouncy verses that scan well. The illustrations are colorfully lively. Readers will appreciate occasional displays of humorous and quirky typesetting creativity and will admire Lila’s poufy topknot, which resembles a huge ball of yarn. Lila is light-skinned, Ms. Kern is tan-skinned, and other characters are diverse.

A much-needed reminder that kindness will always win out. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781419769047

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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