An informative, thoughtful story that encourages appreciation of diverse backgrounds.

CAKE MIX

LEARNING TO LOVE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS

A girl embraces her multifaceted heritage in Hernandez’s picture book.

Remy feels disheartened after her new classmates ask her, “Why are your eyes light if you have dark skin?” and “What are you?” She asks her mom, who has dark skin, “What am I?...I don’t look like anyone else.” Remy’s mom proposes they bake a cake, a process that Remy enjoys, and as “the cake rose, so did her spirits.” When Remy eats a slice, Mom asks, “Do you think your cake would taste so delicious if we made it only using flour?” The girl is puzzled. Her mom says the cake is so good because of its multiple ingredients, and she explains that Remy also has “a lot of ingredients that make you into YOU.” She adds that some people, like Remy (who is Polish, Mexican, Black, and Native American), “are a mix of many” ethnicities. Everyone is different, which “makes the world so beautiful.” At school the next day, Remy’s mom gives a baking lesson to Remy’s class. Students choose various enticing flavors and decorations, and every cake is terrific. Remy proudly says, “I’m MIXED and I love all my ingredients.” Hernandez’s sweet analogy is simple but kid friendly and may prompt meaningful conversations for young readers and their parents—along with a baking project or two. Lewis’ spirited illustrations feature bold hues and friendly characters with large eyes. Backdrops include fun additions like watercolor splotches, cake batter swirls, flowers, and flags and faces where Remy’s mom explains the meaning of ethnicity. Includes a page where the reader can note their own “cake mix.”

An informative, thoughtful story that encourages appreciation of diverse backgrounds.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1736880203

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Mixedkids&co

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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