A worthy theme of noticing the “show” of nature receives an uninspired illustrative treatment.

LOOK, IT'S RAINING

A young girl discovers the fascination of nature.

Camille is bored one rainy Sunday and decides to go outside. There she communes with the raindrops, sticking out her tongue (“the rain tastes like dust, like clouds”), and “shivers with happiness” when the thunder comes. She talks to the ants, who tell her they are “going to a show.” Camille naturally wonders what the show is, but the story doesn’t go there directly. Instead, Camille cavorts. (Young readers will notice here that the illustrations do not sync with the text, which reads that she ‘“runs her hands through the tall, wet grass” whose “strands tickle her palms,” while the illustration shows Camille stretching on a brick wall and then splashing in a puddle.) When she spies a spider on a rose bush, weaving a web, she, too, mentions the show. Again, Camille wonders what the show is but, again, doesn’t go looking. While pondering a big tree, she inadvertently comes upon the show—a chrysalis opening. While the somewhat-scattered text doesn’t follow a strong story arc, its meandering does underscore the whimsy of an unplanned walk in the rain. However, Dek’s illustrations—rendered in watercolor (but so opaque as to look like gouache)—dampen rather than uplift. Their clunky, ponderous style just doesn’t appropriately complement a story about the evanescence, transformation, and luminosity of nature. All humans shown are white.

A worthy theme of noticing the “show” of nature receives an uninspired illustrative treatment. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61689-828-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more