It’s another near-perfect slice of life from a duo that has found a way to spotlight underrepresented children without...

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CARMELA FULL OF WISHES

On her birthday, a young girl accompanies her brother on his errands for the first time and makes a wish, but not exactly in the way she was expecting.

When readers meet 7-year-old Carmela, she is scootering past workers in fields, excited to tag along with her older brother on her birthday. It’s fun for her, but it’s also necessary: Their mother works in housekeeping for a fancy hotel, and their father was a day laborer who is no longer home. As they run errands, Carmela plays the annoying little sister, but when she falls off her scooter and loses a dandelion wish she was counting on, her brother takes her to a place where her wish is carried further than she could have imagined. This second de la Peña–Robinson collaboration after Last Stop on Market Street is no less powerful and beautiful. It touches on immigration, class, and loss without belaboring each. And it’s full of rich details, sharp and restrained writing, and acrylic paintings that look textured enough to rise off the page. In one brilliant sequence, Mexican papel picado depicts what Carmela imagines, ending with “her dad getting his papers fixed so he could finally be home” and a cutout of a kneeling father embracing his daughter. It’s a bracing page, the best in the book, and just as sublime as the text.

It’s another near-perfect slice of life from a duo that has found a way to spotlight underrepresented children without forgetting that they are children first. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-54904-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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