Still, books that connect individuality, being beloved of God, and using one’s God-given talents are few and far between,...

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WHEN GOD MADE YOU

Turner and Catrow celebrate the divine in each person.

“From the very beginning, amid history and time, / you, little one, never left God’s mind.” From facial expressions to the sound of one’s voice, God has it all planned out, according to Turner’s rhyming couplets. Each of us is unique and needed in the world for our God-given gifts; we are reflections of God and God’s hopes for us: that we will be kind, givers and dreamers even during hardships; that we will love one another, etc. Unfortunately, young children may have trouble getting these messages from Turner’s text. Words and word order are often chosen to suit the rhyme and rhythm rather than for understanding, and there is some advanced vocabulary: “ ’Cause God loves you creating, your true self displaying, / when light on the inside through art is portraying. / When you make-believe, the stories conceived, / the heroics, the magic, those tricks up your sleeve.” Catrow’s illustrations are delightful in their bright colors and expressive, brown-skinned protagonist. They take a flight of fancy when the text turns to gifts, however, depicting an extended sequence in which the young girl uses her artistic talents to uplift, the result being an overemphasis on the value of the visual arts over all other talents.

Still, books that connect individuality, being beloved of God, and using one’s God-given talents are few and far between, and with some adult support, this can help fill that gap. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60142-918-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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

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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

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