Hand this book to girls who might need a boost to their self-esteem, especially girls of color.

I'M GROWING GREAT

An empowering picture book sows seeds of positivity and possibility.

The Black and brown young girls who are the stars of this garden-themed motivational manifesto announce their great pride in how well they’re growing—in mindfulness, hopefulness, calmness, self-awareness, and inner strength. Each girl stands contentedly in a different flower garden, sporting a distinctive, elegant natural hairstyle, and dressed gracefully in a feminine outfit. An affirmation appears on each spread (for example “STEADY AS A TREE! / PEACE WITHIN ME!”) in the form of a rhyming couplet set in large capital letters and followed by the mantra “I am growing great!” Some of these declarations—like “EXPLORING MY FEELINGS! / BRINGS KIND HEALING!”—may go over younger children’s heads; however, kids should have no trouble understanding the book’s final statement: “I am born to be great!” While the author’s intent is admirable, the text feels twee and lacks meaningful emotional content. The ebullient, brightly colored, eye-catching illustrations, set against mostly pastel-colored backgrounds, are the real draw here. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hand this book to girls who might need a boost to their self-esteem, especially girls of color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42890-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A full-hearted valentine.

THIS IS A SCHOOL

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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