An agreeable lesson in inclusion.

ELEPHANT'S MUSIC

Even a noisemaker can find a place in the band.

In this simple but effective Italian import, the author/illustrator of All About Cats (2017) offers a reassuring message. With whimsical, colorful cartoons, she introduces Edward the elephant’s friends, an array of highly individual jungle animals who make beautiful instrumental music together. Alas, no matter what instrument he tries, Edward can make only “a terrible noise.” He never misses a band concert, but he’s always the audience. One day, he’s late, and his noisy arrival suggests another possibility: Edward can be the drummer. The story is conveyed in short sentences surrounded by images full of detail—sometimes in vignettes and sometimes double-page spreads. The Polish illustrator’s appealing animal characters have googly eyes, stylized noses, and happy smiles. The zebra sports dark glasses; Edward wears checkered pants with suspenders. The band members play a wild variety of instruments, from harp and double bass to accordion and toy xylophone. Their jungle is full of colorful variety, too. These bright, scribbly illustrations are the stars of the show. One striking scene shows Edward, drink in hand, enjoying a musical performance, clearly part of the circle even in his role as audience—which (it should have been noted) is also important. The circle is repeated on the last spread, when Edward and his new drum join the band. Whether by accident or design, Filipina often spaces her characters far enough apart from one another to suggest social distancing.

An agreeable lesson in inclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3505-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more