Along with the azure-and–sky-blue ovoid fish at the end, readers will pronounce themselves, in yellow, white and green...

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HAPPY

Beautiful, vibrant fish—although not ones found in nature—illustrate emotions in this art piece for children and for adults translated from the Dutch.

Each double-page spread is constructed with an image of a fish on one side, in what looks like a chalk drawing on a blackboard. Opposite is a single hand-lettered word, also drawn in chalk or crayon, on a jewel-toned, textured sheet. “Brave” is a very small pale fish with a tentative smile, isolated in the lower corner of the black page, opposite a cherry-red page with the word brave in lower-case white letters. “Sad” is small, smeared letters on a blue page like streaks of rain or tears. The large blue fish opposite has little definition; eyes and mouth are almost invisible in its misery. The “content” green fish aligns itself in the precise middle of the page; one can almost see it wriggling in its satisfaction. The “shocked” square-ish fish is shocking pink and purple and prickly, with open mouth and round eyes. The line, color, and texture make each page a pleasure to return to, and each single word is fully expressed in its corresponding picture.

Along with the azure-and–sky-blue ovoid fish at the end, readers will pronounce themselves, in yellow, white and green letters, “delighted.” (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935954-14-9

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Positively refreshing.

HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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