The book will appeal particularly to children and families navigating this space between cultures.

HOME IS IN BETWEEN

National Book Award finalist Perkins’ picture book depicts a tale of immigration and adaptation.

In the opening spreads, Shanti says “goodbye” to her West Bengal village, with its “warm monsoon rains” and its “green palm trees,” and gives a dubious “hello” to a “town with cold rain / And orange and yellow leaves.” Here, in the United States, Shanti lives a bifurcated life: Inside feels familiar, with Ma cooking luchi; outside feels strange, with “napkins on laps” and “no elbows on tables.” Shanti occupies a liminal space, the “in-between” of the title, ricocheting from kathak dance to ballet, from Bollywood to Hollywood, from harmonium to piano. “Learning the town. / Remembering the village. / Again and again. / In Between.” When a White kid explains T-ball to Shanti and then demands, “Where are you from, Mars?” Shanti “feels tired” at this obviously racist attack. A couple of page turns and some months (judging by the illustrations) later, however, suddenly Shanti realizes she is “good at making anywhere feel like home. / Especially here. / In the space between cultures.” Kolkata-born, Australia-based Naidu’s illustrations are light and full of motion, reinforcing both the book’s tone and its content. Shanti’s expressions, including wonder, frustration, and exhaustion, are particularly emotive. In an author’s note, Perkins explains that such code-switching was exhausting to her as a new immigrant but acknowledges it as a gift as an adult. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 9% of actual size.)

The book will appeal particularly to children and families navigating this space between cultures. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-30367-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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