Insensitive and unwelcoming.

PRINCESS KEVIN

A determined boy wears a princess costume to his school’s fancy dress show.

Despite what others think and in defiance of their laughter, Kevin, a little white boy, refuses to dress as a knight, cowboy, or superhero for his school’s costume event. Kevin is a princess. If girls can wear any costume they want, after all, then so can he. Proud of his outfit, Kevin seeks one final addition to “complete the look”: a knight to hold his hand. Bright, hand-drawn pen-and-ink illustrations accompany the narration. Kevin and Chloe (the other character named in the text) appear white, but their class includes students with light and dark brown skin. While the narration suggests that Kevin has support from his family, he faces rejection from his classmates without intervention. Apart from brief mentions of Kevin’s mother’s lipstick and Chloe’s father, adults play no role in the story. None of the students in class stand up for Kevin either. Even Chloe’s giggling remark that “You’ve got a lot to learn before you can be a real princess” as she helps him undress keeps Kevin from self-expression. Furthermore, Escoffier places strict judgment in the text that “the whole point” of wearing a costume “is that you become someone totally different. Otherwise it makes no sense to dress up in the first place,” leaving no room for personal exploration.

Insensitive and unwelcoming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5435-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life.

¡VAMOS! LET'S GO TO THE MARKET

From the ¡Vamos! series

Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, journey through a Mexican mercado delivering diverse goods to a variety of booths.

With the aid of red words splattered throughout the spreads as labels, Raúl the Third gives an introduction to Spanish vocabulary as Little Lobo, an anthropomorphic wolf, leaves his house, fills his cart with objects from his warehouse, and delivers them to the market’s vendors. The journey also serves as a crash course in Mexican culture, as the images are packed with intertextual details such as food, traditional games, and characters, including Cantinflas, Frida Khalo, and Juan Gabriel. Readers acquainted with Raúl the Third’s characters from his Lowriders series with author Cathy Camper will appreciate cameos from familiar characters. As he makes his rounds, Little Lobo also collects different artifacts that people offer in exchange for his deliveries of shoe polish, clothespins, wood, tissue paper, paintbrushes, and a pair of golden laces. Although Raúl the Third departs from the ball-pen illustrations that he is known for, his depiction of creatures and critters peppering the borderland where his stories are set remains in his trademark style. The softer hues in the illustrations (chosen by colorist Bay) keep the busy compositions friendly, and the halftone patterns filling the illustrations create foregrounds and backgrounds reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s pointillism.

A culturally intricate slice of a lupine courier’s life. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-55726-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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