This uplifting, body-positive story will empower kids with highly textured hair to take pride in every inch of it.

MY HAIR IS MAGIC!

If hair could talk, this little brown-skinned girl’s exuberant Afro would have a lot to say.

This picture book’s unnamed first-person protagonist is constantly asked, “Why is your hair so BIG?” To which she answers, “Why isn’t yours?” Centering her own beauty and the uniqueness of her hair, she recounts, in verse, how people touch her hair and ask her other persistent, microaggressive questions. Appearing differently on every page—an accurate reflection of the versatility of highly textured hair—her magical locks are never the same color twice, exhibiting as much verve and life as the wearer does herself. In some illustrations, the little girl’s hair dominates the page; sometimes her coils emit music; sometimes they are composed of stylized, multicolored clouds or resemble rolling ocean waves in blues and greens. Engel’s rich, sometimes surreal illustrations abound with textures and colors—deep purples, royal blues, sunny yellows—that embody the protagonist’s unique personality. The creators’ notes indicate that both Marroquin and Engel have personal connections with hair that attracts a lot of attention. Engel even notes that, in her childhood, school bylaws required straightened hair. An excellent addition to a growing genre.

This uplifting, body-positive story will empower kids with highly textured hair to take pride in every inch of it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-981-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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