A memorable, thought-provoking story poised to make a difference for many.

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MILO IMAGINES THE WORLD

A subway ride marked by anxious people-watching builds up to Milo’s most important moment of the month.

As the subway train pulls away from the station, Milo, holding his drawing pad and pencil, sits beside his big sister, who holds her cellphone. Both kids present Black. Milo is “a shook-up soda” of excitement, confusion, and worry. “To keep himself from bursting,” Milo observes the people around him on the train and imagines the lives they go home to, drawing scenes of their lives in his notebook. He imagines one pale-skinned man with a five o’clock shadow going home to a rat-infested apartment building, eating alone. He imagines a young White boy in a suit going home to a castle in a horse-drawn carriage. But when Milo gets off the train, he is surprised to find that White boy heading to the same destination as him. His surprise leads him to rethink his assessment of the people on the train, expanding his ideas of who people might be. With the same combination of wide-eyed observation and suspenseful buildup to a socially conscious revelation that readers cherished in this duo’s award-winning Last Stop on Market Street (2015), this picture book offers a child’s view of the impacts of incarceration on families. De la Peña’s descriptive language and Robinson’s innocent, endearing art make for another winning package. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.1% of actual size.)

A memorable, thought-provoking story poised to make a difference for many. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-54908-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way.

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SULWE

With the help of a legend about Day and Night, a dark-skinned black child learns that she is beautiful inside and out.

Sulwe is “the color of midnight,” the darkest in her multihued family, and is teased in school. She tries everything to lighten her skin: an eraser, makeup, eating light foods, prayer. Her mother tells her she is beautiful and that her name, Sulwe, or “star,” refers to an inner brightness, but she can’t see it in herself. Then a shooting star comes to her window, sent by the night, and brings Sulwe out to tell her about Night and Day, two sisters who loved each other but were treated differently. When Night left after people called her names like “scary,” “bad,” and “ugly,” the people realized that they needed her. The stars added that “some light can only be seen in the dark.” After learning how Night and Day are both needed, Sulwe knows that she is “dark and beautiful, bright and strong.” Harrison’s glossy illustrations faithfully render the features of black people, allowing the beauty of different skin tones to shine, with deep purple tones in the darkness, reinforcing the story’s message. In an author’s note, Nyong’o shares her own past struggles with her complexion.

A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2536-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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