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BERRY SONG

A touching story of familial love and of respect and gratitude for the bounty of the land.

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A magical intergenerational story of gifts and cultural rituals shared between a grandmother and her granddaughter.

A Tlingit grandmother takes her young granddaughter to a nearby island for a berry-picking adventure in the forest. To alert the forest bear and the various types of berries that glow “like little jewels” of their presence, the pair sing a harvest song: “Salmonberry, Cloudberry, Blueberry, Nagoonberry. Huckleberry, Soapberry, Strawberry, Crowberry.” Grandma teaches the girl that “we speak to the land…as the land speaks to us,” and “we sing too, so the land knows we are grateful.” As they gather berries in the misty rain, they listen to the sounds of insect wings, inhale the sweet scent of cedar, and feel the soft moss on tree branches. Back at home, “the kitchen glows like a summer sky” as the girl, her grandmother, her father, and her younger sister make syrup, marmalade, jelly, jam, pie, and scones to share. When winter comes, the forest is described as “dreaming, waiting for berry song.” Seasons change, marking the passage of time and leading to a bittersweet, full-circle ending. This beautifully written story by Caldecott medalist/debut author Goade features breathtaking, atmospheric artwork inspired by the wild landscape of her hometown, Sheet’ká, Alaska, and incorporates rich symbolism and imagery from Tlingit culture. A closing author’s note elucidates sacred Tlingit principles mentioned in the story, and dazzling endpapers identify different berry varieties. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A touching story of familial love and of respect and gratitude for the bounty of the land. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49417-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

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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