Big love for this little book.

LITTLE BROTHERS & LITTLE SISTERS

A heartfelt reflection on the trials and joys of sibling dynamics.

A multiracial cast of characters with varied skin tones and hair textures greets readers on the cover, and many will note that each of the younger-looking children peering out a window (the eponymous little brothers and sisters) bears a physical resemblance to one of the older siblings pictured below. There are four pairs in all, and at the beginning of the book Arnaldo depicts them in various scenarios in which the younger kids are “all longing for the same few things….” These “things” translate into pictures of the children looking with envy at older kids’ more-sophisticated toys and feeling put upon by or excluded from the big kids’ play. None of the scenes depict outright cruelty on the part of the older siblings, which allows the eventual shift to highlight the positive aspects of being a little brother or sister to feel not only plausible, but natural. The change happens when a little sister longs for “invisibility” after breaking her big sister’s trophy, and then this desire morphs into hoping for a “second chance.” A softness in the big sister’s expression and stance suggests she’ll grant forgiveness, and the ensuing pages show big siblings demonstrating similar generosity as they offer a “helping hand” and otherwise act as protectors, co-conspirators, teachers, leaders, and finally, satisfyingly, as “best friend[s].”

Big love for this little book. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-295-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way.

PINKIE PROMISES

Lately, everyone seems intent on telling Polly what girls can’t do.

Whether it’s fixing a leak, building a model drawbridge, or washing a car, it seems like the world thinks that girls aren’t able to do anything. Polly is discouraged until she goes to a political rally with her mother. There, the two meet a White woman named Elizabeth (recognizably author Warren in Chua’s friendly illustrations) who’s running for president. She tells Polly that she is running because that’s what girls do: They lead. Polly and Elizabeth make a pinky promise to remember this truth. Polly decides that being a girl can’t prevent her from doing whatever she wants. Even though she’s a bit intimidated at attending a brand-new school, Polly decides to be brave—because that’s what girls do, and she makes a pinkie promise with her mom. At soccer, she’s under pressure to score the winning goal. She makes a pinkie promise with her coach to do her best, because that’s what girls do. And so on. By the end of the book, Polly ignores what she’s been told that girls can’t do and totally focuses on what they can do: absolutely anything they want. In the illustrations, Polly and her family have dark skin and straight, dark hair. The narrative is inspiring and child friendly, although the constant return to making pinkie promises feels like a distraction from the central message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80102-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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