If the essence of “wild” remains elusive, perhaps that is partly the point—“wild” can’t be contained but is hidden and...

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FINDING WILD

The wild world can be found close by, even in the city.

A light-skinned child with dark braids and another with blond hair venture into a green space near a subway entrance. The path through dense foliage leads to mountains and lakes, a winter landscape, a meadow in bloom, a rocky shore above blue water for swimming. Lloyd’s poetic, philosophical text poses and answers a question: “What is wild?” The answer, unrelated to Sendak’s dancing monsters, stays within the context of Earth, nature, and weather. Halpin’s digitally finished watercolor-and–colored-pencil drawings offer delicate leafy landscapes and bright flowers as well as evocative scenes of night and stormy skies. The author suggests ways that the wild world can be experienced. “Wild is full of smells—fresh mint, ancient cave….” It can be felt: “wild is forest-fire hot and icicle cold”; and it can be sweet: “honey from bees…and juice-bursting blackberries.” It makes noise: “it storm-thunders and wind-whispers.” When the children emerge from their adventure, the text carries a lament for the difficulty of finding “wild” in a place that is “clean and paved, ordered and tidy / …[with] streets and cars and buildings so high, they hide the sky.”

If the essence of “wild” remains elusive, perhaps that is partly the point—“wild” can’t be contained but is hidden and waiting to be discovered. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93281-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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