A gentle model for living while missing a loved one.

SOME DAYS

In this Argentine import, laundry day leads to comforting conversations about loss.

The story opens upon a mother and child sitting at a table, plates empty. The somber mood is supported with the white, cream, gray, and black palette. As the youngster describes a special passageway that sometimes appears in their yard, the mother hangs two tomato-red sheets on the clothesline. On the other side of the sheets, viewers see the child diving into the grass to “swim” toward the man (presumably a close relative) who’s mirroring the child’s actions on the other side of the gutter. In this fantasy world, “there’s no danger. / And nothing, nothing at all, can happen to you.” The man’s absence is not explained, but the probability that it is permanent is suggested when his porkpie hat appears on the protagonist’s head at the conclusion. In Schimel’s translation, Wernicke’s words are few but well chosen and expertly paced, the sentences split among the pages allowing for unhurried absorption of meaning. Her curved figures are solid, with cream-colored skin; straight, black hair; and short lines for eyes. No mouths are visible, a decision that adds to the contemplative aura. Subtle patterns add interest, and red—ultimately applied to the mother—signals warmth and love. Joining the quest for the passageway, she notes: “Although we may not always see it, / we can always go looking for it.”

A gentle model for living while missing a loved one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2251-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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