MIRA'S CURLY HAIR

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

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. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

CARPENTER'S HELPER

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

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. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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