Laudable in its inclusivity and content, imperfect in execution.

READ REVIEW

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

In a companion to The Great Big Book of Families (2011), Hoffman and Asquith tackle the myriad ways families are made in the 21st century.

The energetic scenes depicting mixed-race, same-sex, blended and single-parent families transition from a husband and pregnant wife to a variety of other family configurations discussing adoption and foster homes. A green teddy bear provides commentary. Unfortunately, both the descriptive narrative (in its brevity and possibly unfamiliar terminology) and some of the cartoon dialogue have the potential to be confusing to the intended audience. Parents trying to adopt “find a child who can’t stay with their original family, because their birth parents aren’t able to look after them.” The accompanying illustration shows an adoring dad saying, “Amazing! She looks just like your mom.” Parents looking for a book to introduce in vitro fertilization may appreciate the coverage, but the chart of the “male cell + female cell” equation coupled with the smiling boy exclaiming that he “came from a glass dish” may need further explanation. Hoffman devotes another spread to how same-sex couples get their cells (women from a friend or “special clinic,” men also needing a woman to “grow the baby”). If children ask what a cell is or where it comes from, parents are on their own.

Laudable in its inclusivity and content, imperfect in execution. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84780-592-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers.

LOUIS

A hug is a powerful thing.

Louis, a stuffed teddy bear, has grievances: His owner, a dark-haired kid with light-brown skin, has mistreated Louis in a variety of ways, including using the bear as a hankie, burying the toy in the sand, and subjecting him to the terrors of the washing machine. After Louis suffers the final indignity—almost being left behind on public transportation—the bear plans to make his escape. Savvy readers may surmise that Louis’ heart isn’t completely in this grand departure, as the teddy delays based on rain, cupcake-filled tea parties, and being the star of show-and-tell due to bravery during the bus incident. When the perfect moment to desert finally arrives, a last-minute hug helps Louis realize how much the kid loves and appreciates him. It’s a charming, genuinely sweet ending to a well-crafted story that leaves lots of openings for Rowan-Zoch’s boldly colored, crisp cartoon artwork to deliver a vibrant pop that will be appreciated in both large storytimes and intimate lap reads. Louis is marvelously expressive, panicking, glaring, and unexpectedly softening by turns. Caregivers and educators may see an opportunity in the story to engage in creative writing or storytelling based on the readers’ own favorite stuffed friends. Louis’ owner’s mom appears in one scene wearing a salwar kameez, suggesting the family is of South Asian heritage.

Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-49806-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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