A loving ode to art forms that transcends language.

SONATA FOR FISH AND BOY

The titular boy and fish guide readers and nonreaders alike through a dreamy, textless journey.

Pavlović’s watercolor illustrations begin with soft purples and blues, depicting a cheerful fish drawn to the surface of a river by music—it’s the sound of a violin, played by a boy sitting by the water. Exhausted by his practicing, the boy falls asleep, awakening swimming through the air with his new scaly friend through an increasingly saturated dreamscape. The nameless boy and his companion retain their watery hues while floating past musicians and dancers, up to the stars and back again, until landing, Wizard of Oz–style, gently back in their original palette. The violin, abandoned by the riverside, is picked up by an elderly man—possibly the original boy—whereupon he meets and embraces a friendly fish. Emotive, expertly rendered watercolors inspire quiet contemplation and will be welcoming for all ages, encouraging appreciation for the many ways different art forms can transport a viewer or listener. The main figure, though described as a boy in the title, appears almost genderless and is pale and light-haired. Other humans are depicted with a wide range of ages and gender presentations and a variety of realistic and fantastical skin colors and hair textures. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65% of actual size.)

A loving ode to art forms that transcends language. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-161-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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