This volume adds depth and beauty to the growing collection of hair-themed picture books for the very young.

MIRA'S CURLY HAIR

Brown-skinned, curly-haired Mira is delighted to watch her mother transition from straight hair to curly hair in this European import set in the Emirates.

Mira doesn’t like her curly hair. “She wanted it to be straight and smooth, just like her Mama’s.” She tries hair tools and poses and flattening it out with books, but her hair still curls all over. One day, Mira and her mama get caught outside in the rain. As they wait for the rain to clear, Mira notices something happening to Mama’s hair. “Up and up! It kept on curling! It wouldn’t stop!” Mira thinks her mama’s hair “looks beautiful and free, curling everywhere!” From then on, both Mira and her mama wear curls every day. In the final, triumphant spread, the curly-haired duo rides a tandem bicycle by the sea. Although it’s hard to imagine why Mira has never seen her mama’s hair in its natural state before, this simple story does a lovely job weaving in various cultural realities with a universal theme of self-acceptance. The artwork, in acrylics completed digitally, uses bright, nearly fantastical colors and images—a red sky, hair tools that include toy soldiers, brightly patterned birds surrounding Mama’s curly hair. Palm trees, Islamic architecture, and traditionally dressed passers-by line the streets.

This volume adds depth and beauty to the growing collection of hair-themed picture books for the very young. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-911373-61-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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