Breaking the bounds of a traditional picture book, Iris’ creative growth elevates us all.

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LIFT

Bridging the gap between picture book and graphic novel, this charmer catapults a simple storyline of sibling jealousy into outer space.

Iris, the older of two small children, always has the job of pushing the button on the elevator. “Up or down, our floor or the lobby, I always get to push the button.” One day, her toddler sibling reaches out and pushes the button before she can. Their parents’ joy over the smaller child’s new trick is pure betrayal to Iris. The baby has stolen her job, just like her stuffed tiger. Lê and Santat, creators of Asian/Pacific Award–winner Drawn Together (2018), have produced another inspired storyline fueled by emotions that come alive with magnetic illustrations. Dark frames around each scene keep the focus on Iris, a black-haired girl with expressive eyes that pierce through her messy bangs. (The whole family has black hair and pale skin.) Styled like a graphic novel’s, the illustrations focus on Iris’ feelings as she imagines a new elevator button, one that she can control, with the magical ability to transport her to other worlds. Frustration, invention, escape, wonder—all move across the pages with immediacy. Like Sendak’s Max, Iris uses anger to lift her away from the real world into jungles and outer space. And she returns to her room changed.

Breaking the bounds of a traditional picture book, Iris’ creative growth elevates us all. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-03692-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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