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A sumptuous story of summertime Black joy, and a master class in fostering family literacy.

Young bibliophiles delight in their library visits.

Two African American siblings dressed in blue shorts and striped shirts go to the library each week in the summer to pick 10 books. “Only books about Black people…no repeats,” Mama says, and “No more than three books on the same subject!” the white librarian says. After painstakingly choosing, the children haul their huge piles to the car where Mama waits, hot but too shy to enter. At home, everyone grabs a book and settles down: the narrator on the bed, the younger sister on the floor, and Mama in her chair. Absorbing Black history, the protagonist is transported: escaping slavery with Harriet Tubman, protesting at the March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr., and reciting poetry alongside Paul Laurence Dunbar. The exquisite collage work by Peoples brims with highly saturated colors and rich textures and demonstrates the immersive power of literature. Book review competitions between the siblings follow; the winner earns “an extra slice of Mama’s homemade sweet potato pie.” Archival images of Black heroes appear throughout the book—some well known, others that will beckon readers to learn more. In the backmatter, Noel and Peoples share stories of how they became passionate readers.

A sumptuous story of summertime Black joy, and a master class in fostering family literacy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 12, 2024

ISBN: 9781949480238

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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