Children will be amused by the relationship and intrigued with the technique, comprehending that one can draw with a pencil...

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Amato’s debut features two writing tools with opposing dispositions: a yellow pencil and a pink, stand-alone eraser.

One likes to make marks; the other delights in eradication. Can this end well? Clean, white backgrounds set the stage for opening strokes and smudges easily removed. The eraser exhibits confidence, but the writing implement picks up speed, creating—in rapid succession—an impudent caricature of its nemesis, a cyclone, an army of menacing pencils, and a forest that becomes so thick it’s essentially solid black. Stumped, the eraser eventually swipes at the darkness. Although the attempts leave residual texture, the effect is pleasing. A sun created by erasing leads to a galaxy, and the neatnik eraser directs a newly hewn rocket onto a fresh page, exclaiming, “Eat my dust!” Soon, however, the devilish drawer is at it again. The eraser’s response—rubbed-away letters forming the book’s title—reveals that this strategy brings peace with the duo’s differences (and that their interactions are actually enjoyed). Employing a controlled palette for the digitally manipulated photographs and hand drawings, Amato maintains interest by animating a few deft lines into ever changing facial expressions and by varying the page designs from panels to full spreads. Surprisingly, the pencil doesn’t have any lines to speak; the eraser does all the talking, albeit in brief comments.

Children will be amused by the relationship and intrigued with the technique, comprehending that one can draw with a pencil and an eraser—and that opposites can co-exist. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-82931-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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